The days of “thumb-sucked” water readings will soon be over for some Buffalo City Metro residents as the metro is set to overhaul more than 3000 water meters in its suburbs.
A sum of R16-million has been allocated for the 2017-18 financial year for water meter replacements in King William’s Town, Bhisho and East London.
Over 3000 meters have been installed in Quigney, Saxilby, Winchester Gardens, Brookmead, Selborne, Mzamomhle, Scenery Park and Tyutyu North in Bhisho.
BCM engineering services portfolio head Ncedo Kumbaca said they were responding to the general complaint of “thumb-sucked” meter readings.
“We have in the past had troubles accessing the water meters, which most of the time were inside the people’s yards.
“We have since come up with the idea of having them outside the property for easy access to municipal meter readers,” he said.
Saxilby is one of the areas that has new water meters installed.
However, resident Andrew Howard said they had not seen any difference.
“We have [in] one month been billed over R36000, yet we don’t have a pool, there are just two people staying in the house. With investigation, we found that it was a fault with the municipality,” said Howard.
East London Ratepayers’ Association secretary Christos Theart said: “BCM won’t have any excuses for thumb-sucking meter readings. Now, we wait and see if we will be billed accurately.”
Kumbaca said the project was not limited to water meters, but included replacing underground water pipes.
“Old infrastructure that has gone unreplaced for a long time are a result of frequent pipe bursts in the city. We have teams out there replacing the old underground asbestos and steel water pipes with new strong plastic pipes, which do not corrode,” he said.
The Daily Dispatch has previously reported on a spike in water bills, which BCM admitted was a result of staff shortages and lack of skills, incorrect meter readings and water leakages which were not properly captured.
BCM is reviewing its meter reading management system in order to improve the quality and frequency of meter reading, as well as an integrated system to reduce human error.
The city’s annual report also states that water sales have decreased by 10.02% year-on-year. This was attributed to the increase in unaccountable water loss.
“The extent of sales metering, the quality of meter reading and the completeness of the billing database have been identified as being key areas requiring attention,” states the annual report.
The report further stated that 1% of BCM’s total households, mostly in rural areas, still require basic water services and that to eradicate such a backlog an amount of R123-million was needed.