Cape Town’s By-law: Wasting Water Now Attracts These Punishments

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The city of Cape Town’s new new is out to punish water wasters with jailtime.

If a recently proposed by-law pushes through, people who have no regard for water restrictions will have to face the wrath of the law. The by-law introduces the threat of imprisonment‚ cracks down on borehole use and rogue plumbers‚ makes swimming pool covers mandatory and compels section title schemes to blow the whistle on owners who use too much water.

The aforementioned measures were tabled on Tuesday as proposed amendments to the water-by-law. They will be open for public comment until January 8 and as stated in the draft;

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“A person who fails to comply with water restrictions … is guilty of an offence and is liable to a fine or upon conviction to a period of imprisonment not exceeding six months.”



According to the mayoral committee member for water‚ Xanthea Limberg‚ the changes are aimed at making Cape Town a more resilient‚ water-sensitive city that can withstand the intense drought episodes plaguing the country.

The new by-law also states that anyone who wants to use non-municipal water for domestic purposes will need the council’s written permission. In addition, where borehole water is used for irrigation, it will have to be used sparingly‚ efficiently and will have to be “in line with the watering times of the water by-laws.”

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While Cape Town’s new by-law also mandates property owners to tell the council when they fit or change a geyser‚ heat pump or solar hot water panels, only registered plumbers are permitted to work on these devices. Also, when a property is sold‚ a certificate will be needed from a registered plumber guaranteeing that its water installation conforms with the by-law. The amendments also grant the council powers to insist that a water management device‚ sub-meter or pre-paid meter is fitted to each unit in a sectional title scheme.