If you are a high water consumer in Nelson Mandela Bay, be warned: not only is the municipality gearing up to restrict your usage, but you will have to pay for it.
More than 30,000 households across the Bay have already been identified as using more than 15 kilolitres of water for three consecutive months.
This means the city will install a water management device at a cost of R3,500 — which will have to be paid from consumers’ own pockets.
The fee will be added to municipal accounts for payment the following month.
Municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said installation of restricting water meters would start with the highest user.
Some ward councillors have already expressed concern about the measure, arguing that no proper consultation had taken place
Infrastructure political boss Masixole Zinto said the municipality would eventually install waterflow limiting disks in all households in the metro as the city battled with the low dam levels.
As of Tuesday, the city’s combined dam levels were sitting at 16.49% and installing these restrictors was just one of the ways the city hoped to reduce consumption, Zinto said.
He said the disk was aimed at reducing water consumption and to force households to use less than 500 litres of water a day.
We don’t want a situation in Nelson Mandela Bay where there’s load-shedding and water-shedding because we want to be a water secure city, which is part of our economic recovery plan
“The plan is if a household uses more than 15,000l a month for three consecutive months, then we’ll install a water management device which shuts down your water after using the allocated amount and will only return the next day,” he said.
Zinto said the department of water and sanitation had been restricted to 268 megalitres a day — but presently the city was using about 300Ml a day.
“We don’t want a situation in Nelson Mandela Bay where there’s load-shedding and water-shedding because we want to be a water secure city, which is part of our economic recovery plan.
“We need to have water security in the metro and part of that is managing what we have until it rains.
“We don’t want a situation where our people have to queue for water, and this means that businesses will view the city as a water secure city and they’ll continue to invest because we’ve managed our water crisis,” he said.
The solid disk restrictors will eventually be installed in all households across the metro at no cost to the customers.
Where customers are using in excess of 15kl a month, a flow restricting water meter will be installed at the cost of the customer.
Zinto said the department of budget and treasury had been tasked with issuing notices to those customers using more than their allocated water, and that the water management device would only be installed after three consecutive warnings which would be attached to their monthly municipal accounts.
“We have to do something.
“We’ve been talking about consumption and drought every day but residents have not listened.
“This is not a witch-hunt but you still have some people who fill up their pools and, as a municipality, we’ve come to a point where we need to act,” Zinto said.
We’re in a drought and this is one of the programmes aimed at fighting the drought. We need to conserve water
Though the project has already been rolled out in some parts of the metro, there is still confusion among some councillors as to who is liable for the restrictors.
Mniki said the decision to impose water restrictions was taken as far back as 2016.
This decision also gave the mayor authority to sign off on all water restrictions, he said.
According to neighbourhood notifications from DA councillors Francois Greyling and Pieter Terblanche, the installation of these devices would be at the cost of the account holder.
Terblanche, the councillor in Ward 51, said 1,026 households would be visited for this purpose, while Greyling, the Ward 52 councillor, said 866 houses had already been earmarked.
Both of their notifications to their residents said this was done after the municipality discovered consumption at certain households was between 16 and 29kl a month.
Last month, Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Nqaba Bhanga said the city would use an “open approach” and a series of interventions and deadlines to manage water-supply challenges.
He said these interventions would include the installation of restrictors to curb rogue water users, but did not give timelines of when this would happen.
Ward 60 councillor Mvuzo Mbelekane said there was no proper consultation about the process.
“Normally, the political head of the department would tell us about the project and then the project manager would introduce the contractor, but none of that has happened yet,” he said.
Ward 30 councillor Mbulelo Gidane said these measures had been passed in council ages ago.
“We’re in a drought and this is one of the programmes aimed at fighting the drought.
“We need to conserve water,” he said.
Gidane conceded there could have been a lack of public participation, “but then again, there’s Covid-19”.
Ward 12 councillor Sharlene Davids said the programme had not yet been rolled out in her ward.
Davids said she was aware that excessive users would have to pay, but was unsure of the amount.
Asked if the municipality had taken into account estimated readings made by water readers, Mniki said: “In determining the households with usage above 15kl a month, all estimates are removed and the actual consumption trends are used.”
The restrictors are to be installed in terms of Section 4 of the Water Services Act 108 (No 108 of 1997) and Clause 31 of the Water and Sanitation Services.
The section states that for non-ATTP (assistance to the poor) users, notices to all consumers above 15kl will be served immediately and restrictors installed thereafter at the cost of the customer.
Mniki said those who used 15kl and below would not be affected.