As water issues continue to bite hard on the some parts of South Africa, the residents of Cape town have raised concern over the high water bills imposed on them.
Raising their complain to the press and on social media about higher than normal water bills after the holiday season, the residents claim they had been forced to pay higher rates for their water
This, according to them, is as a result of new tariffs penalizing additional water usage during the current drought alongside longer billing periods for December and January, which meant they had overstepped the limits for cheaper water for a longer period.
However, in reaction to their alleged increased water bill, the council said the bills and new tariffs were being incorrectly interpreted, and that the longer-than-usual billing cycle had not distorted consumers’ accounts.
In addition, Ernest Sonnenberg who is the Mayco member for utility services said the city’s water tariff system was based on daily average and not cumulative usage and that longer billing cycle has been blamed on factors related to the holiday season.
This meant that the average amount charged per kilolitre ought to remain the same, and not push consumers into a higher tariff category.
“Reading all water meters throughout the city over the holiday season is challenging due to problems with access when residents are away and the city’s staff complement is reduced,’’ said Sonnenberg.
“The city endeavors to read residents’ meters every month, and this standard period is normally close to 30 days.’’
On the other hand, residents have an increased water bill if water usage increased over the hotter months of December and January.
To this, Sonnenberg said that the residents would not be worrying over effective increase in water bill if only they adhered to a request to cut their water consumption by 10 percent.
“The tariff is designed so that the price per kilolitre of water goes up once the residents’ use for the month exceeds certain levels,’’ he said pointing that the council makes provision of the first 6 kilolitres of water free of charge after which usage that reaches 10.5kl per month will be charged at a rate of R11.66/kl.
But for those who use between 10.5kl and 20kl per month are charged a rate of R18.24/kl and usage that exceeds 20kl up to 35kl a month is charged at R29.75/kl.
Sonnenberg said sanitation charges would also be affected because these charges are calculated as being 70 percent of total water used on the property up to a maximum of 35kl.
The council has however stated that residents who see their December/January bill as over rated should not expect to receive a rebate, but that estimated readings would be updated with actual readings when they were obtained.