Following calls for South Africans to manage water, Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane says government has come up with a number of restrictions on water usage through its new SA Free water Policy.
The Minister, who was speaking at a closed-door media briefing in Kempton Park on Tuesday, confirmed that the department has finally summed up some restrictions on South African water usage, which will include changes to how much South Africans pay for the water they use.
The water restrictions became necessary following the harsh effect of drought experienced by the country. The drought which dried up all dams, affecting food crops and other agricultural products, caused a huge drawback on country’s economy.
Speaking on this, Mokonyane said it would take close to three or more years for the country to recover from the intense drought, hence the introduction of the SA Free water Policy to help manage water.
he further noted that the SA Free water Policy is needed to improve the synergy between the department and local municipalities and would help ensure South Africa’s water supply in the coming years.
Among other decisions made by the department is the decision that there will be a new national restriction on the amount of free water every South African receives.
This policy, which was first introduced in 2000 as part of South Africa’s fundamental Constitutional rights, has the legislation stating that the Water and Sanitation department must provide at least 6 cubic meters (kl) of water per month for free.
This policy has not been in practice as the department rarely enforced it, thereby allowing many South Africans to use as much as three times that amount, free of charge.
In addition, the policy has also been primarily municipality-focused, with most municipalities, in turn, providing free basic water to all or almost all of its inhabitants regardless of income or availability.
The new change will now completely restrict every South African to the Constitutional-limit of 6 cubic meters with all excessive amounts being charged as per normal municipal water rates.
For instance, Cape Town has announced that the top 20 000 water users will be put under pressure to reduce their water consumption. They could also face punitive measures like fines or water restriction devices as the city’s water department prepares to take tougher action against residents who contravene water restriction rules.
The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services and Energy, Xanthea Limberg, said though the dams are yet to return to their full capacity as rain falls aren’t as much as expected, it is clear that many Capetonians are going above and beyond the call of duty to reduce their water consumption.
“These users have been identified following an examination of the water metering data of the city’s almost one million water customers. We will be able to start communicating with these high users imminently and advise them of punitive measures that might be taken, such as fines for transgressions or the implementation of water restriction devices if we do not start to see a 20% reduction in their usage,” said Limberg
Through the new SA Free water Policy, average use per household would be well under 1 000 litres per day or approximately 30 kilolitres per month.
Mlimandela, however, noted that South Africa’s water usage was far more per capita than those of its international and African neighbours and that drastic measures needed to be taken to bring the country back in line.
The SA Water policy is expected to be implemented within the coming months depending on the ongoing feedback from municipalities.