Still well below average for 2018

We appear to be following the 1 in 5 year or lower 20th percentile when it comes to water storage in Cape Town supply dams.  To be anywhere near being “out of the woods” for the next few years, the red dots would have to be following the dark blue, or even light blue line.  We’re not even above the green line!  Best we all realise the water shortage is far from over and at this point, it looks like we’ll be living the “new normal” for some years to come.

Take advantage of the rain tank specials when the likes of Builders Warehouse starts trying to offload the stock they got in at the tail end of the panic buying.

Keep RED above BLACK and we’re on TRACK…

Calculating the date for ‘Day Zero’ at any moment in time is tricky; it involves a number of factors which can vary from day to day. This results in the date ‘jumping’ about from week to week and can be confusing and disconcerting. We asked permission from DWS to publish the weekly graphs that they use to monitor the system drawdown, which may help a little to manage members’ fears and expectations.

This graph uses red dots to plot the ACTUAL water in the 6 major dams supply the CoCT (Theewatersdkloof, Voelvlei, Berg River Dam, Wemmershoek and the two Steenbras Dams) against PROJECTED levels that are the result of modelling the system. The projected storage assuming low inflows like last year are shown using the dark black dashed line and represent the MINIMUM TARGET. it is important that the storage RED DOTS remain above the BLACK DASHED LINE. That means we avoid dropping the levels of the dams below 13.5%, which gives us a narrow safety margin of about 5% before the water in the dams becomes unusable.

Keep RED above BLACK and we’re on TRACK…

If you look closely at the red dots you will see that around the 29th January they were beginning to diverge below the minimum target. However, subsequently due to the reduction in the combined agricultural and urban demands and the donation of some water by the Groenland Water User Association from Eikenhof Dam the red dots are starting to converge back towards and even beyond the target. This is in essence why “Day Zero” was shifted out into July.

It is conceivable that a wetter winter will be experienced than last year and the various coloured lines represent the probability of these scenarios. For instance, there is about a 50% chance that the storage will follow the green line and reach 700 million m3 providing the planned demand savings are achieved. Similally, there is a 10% chance of the dams filling and less than 2% chance that similar inflows to last year will be experienced.

The system was modelled taking the following variables into account:
a) Rainfall
b) Evaporation
c) Urban potable usage from the dams supplying CoCT
d) Agricultural usage from the dams supplying CoCT

It did NOT account for:
a) Augmentation from CoCT boreholes and desalination plants
b) Augmentation from Eikenhof dam
c) The slightly unseasonal rainfall and inflows received in November and December 2017

The BLACK DASHED line is the projected storage assuming low inflows like last year.

The RED Dots are the actual weekly storage of the system.

“Dead storage” is the water in the dams that cannot be accessed due to pumping limitations. Berms and temporary pumps are being installed to reduce the dead storage.

The reason that Misverstand dam is excluded is because it is a relatively small dam with only about 10 million m3 storage (of which about 80% was unavailable due to pumping limitations) which serves the West Coast and some irrigation.

The totals include the following dams: Theewaterskloof, Voëlvlei, Berg River, Wemmershoek, Upper and Lower Steenbras.

For those who need a bit of info on stochastic modelling:

The probabilistic trajectories were derived using stochastic modelling. “Stochastic” means being or having a random variable. A stochastic model is a tool for estimating probability distributions of potential outcomes by allowing for random variation in one or more inputs over time. The random variation is usually based on fluctuations observed in historical data for a selected period using standard time-series techniques. Distributions of potential outcomes are derived from a large number of simulations (stochastic projections) which reflect the random variation in the input(s).

Its application initially started in physics, although it is now being applied in engineering, life sciences, social sciences, and finance.

The stochastic streamflow generator used in the system model was developed by well known University of KZN Professor Emeritus, Geoff Pegram.
{http://civeng.ukzn.ac.za/Schoolleadershipandstaff/GeoffreyPegram.aspx

Can I visit Cape Town as a tourist during the drought?

As beautiful as it is, the Western Cape is a water-scarce part of the world (much like other successful tourist regions like Southern California and Western Australia) and is vulnerable to the effects of climate change and susceptible to periodic droughts. At present the Western Cape is experiencing a significant drought. Traditionally we experience most of our rain during the winter period, starting May and continuing to August. However, rain can be experienced anytime of the year.

Cape Town and the Western Cape are open for business in spite of the current drought. Visitors and delegates will arrive in a place with a significant breadth and depth of experiences, and exceptional beauty, but we encourage you to be mindful of water-wise tourism and business travel when you’re here.

To counter the short-term effects of the drought, the City of Cape Town has put in place a number of initiatives to increase the supply of water and make provision for extreme water shortages. There are still many places across the Western Cape that are not as severely affected by the drought, such as the nearby Garden Route and the Cape Overberg.

http://www.waterwesterncape.com

MAY I SELL OR EVEN GIFT WATER TO SOMEONE ELSE?

By now the question of ‘may I sell my borehole water / river water / spring water or give it away for free, after all, it runs into the sea…?’ has come up many, many times. While most at least agree that the selling of water is illegal without a license, many still maintain that giving water away for free (and charging a generous fee for transport) is OK. But is it?

To find the answer – let us dissect the National Water Act of 1998. This is the guru on anything water related in SA.

WHAT DOES THE ACT SAY ON THE USE OF WATER?

In Part 1 the Act states: “In general a water use must be licensed unless it is [1.] listed in Schedule I, [2.] is an existing lawful use, [3.] is permissible under a general authorisation, or [4.] if a responsible authority waives the need for a licence.

Read moreMAY I SELL OR EVEN GIFT WATER TO SOMEONE ELSE?

YOUR WATER DEMAND METER (WDM)– A BLESSING OR AN EVIL?

WDM

The dreaded WMD (actually a WDM – Water Demand Management System) is here to stay. Many welcome it, others despise it. Whichever way we look at it, physically controlling high water usage is the only way forward. In fact, these devices have been in use since 2006 – initially to assist the indigent. But what do they look like and how do they work?WDM - aqualoc

WHAT IS A WDM?

Simplistically, a WDM is a valve that controls water flow. It allows a pre-set amount of water to flow, and then closes when said amount has been used. The valve opens again at a pre-set time to allow water to flow again -simple. Apart from controlling high water usage, it also prevents water losses due to leaks. In my opinion, its ability to prevent major water leaks is probably its best feature – the media often report on major water losses at private properties, without the occupants being aware of it. A WDM would have prevented that.

WHO SUPPLIES THE WDMs TO THE CITY?

There are currently two suppliers of WDMs – Aqualoc and Utility Systems. Both devices are installed by contracted installers. The main differences between the two are:

  • Aqualoc is a one-piece unit which replaces your current water meter. It is a water meter and WDM in one. It is equipped with Automatic Meter reading (AMR), but the City is not using that capability.
  • Utility Systems is an electronic valve with LCD panel that gets added to your current pulse water meter (a meter able to send a signal to an electronic measuring device). If you do not have a pulse meter (ie, you have the the old brass one), then a new pulse meter as well as a Utility Systems WDM will be installed. This system is also capable of doing AMR.

HOW DO THESE SYSTEMS WORK?

Regardless of the brand of the WDM, the contractor will set it at a predetermined amount of liters per day (prior to 1 Feb 2018, this was 350 liters per day – stricter water restrictions may result in this being lowered, but it had not been confirmed by the time of writing this article). This is based on 4 people per household. It will allow you to use those allocated liters a day, then shut off. It will reset again at 04:00 the next morning allowing for the next amount of allocated liters to be used that day. Unused daily allowance will roll over, but the system will reset at the end of the month. At 04:00 on the 1st of every month you will start again and lose any accumulated liters from the previous month. This is to prevent water hoarding, which is NOT the point. It is also important to note that the fact that you have an allocated number of liters per month, does NOT mean you MUST use it all. We should all be conscientious and responsible, and we must try to use less.

Larger households (more than 4 people) can apply for an increase in daily allowance – the forms are available on the City’s Website.

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY COMPLAINTS ABOUT THESE DEVICES?

  • Installation and maintenance issues: Soil and dirt that enters the system may cause the valve to jam. If the valve jams, the battery, which normally lasts 3 to 5, will work overtime in its efforts to allow the system to try and open/close the valve. The battery will then run flat in a matter of hours or days, causing the WDM to reset to factory settings. This may result in no water at all, until the system is flushed and reconfigured. Dirt can enter the system during installation or when there was a burst pipe in the area. Note, I am not going to speculate on the quality of the work performed by the contractors. That is not the purpose of this post.
  • Our own fault: While many of us will remain in denial, quite a lot of perceived problems are self-inflicted. Both devices can be accessed by laptop where usage stats can be retrieved. Some people use their full allocation and then deny it…. “I did NOT leave the door open… I did NOT use that much water….”, while the proof is there for all to see. If there is no leak, then you have used the water.

HOW CAN I ENSURE MY ALLOCATED WATER IS NOT WASTED?

  • Open taps are the main reason these devices are perceived to fail. Some people do not know a tap is open, and the allocated water is then wasted as soon as the valve opens at 04:00.  By the time the occupants wake up, all their water is gone….
  • Furthermore, Some geysers have a 200 or 300 liter capacity. Just to fill that will take almost 80% of your daily allowance. Some top loaders use 190 liters…. etc, etc. Enough said. Regarding geysers, be aware of how much cold water is wasted before the water gets hot. Consider a point of use electric or gas shower head or faucet to reduce water wastage.

HOW DO I READ MY NEW WDM?

WDM - how to read the meter

  • The Utility Systems one is easy to read. You still have your water meter that will record total water usage. The Utility Systems WDM’s LCD screen will tell you how much of your allowance is left.
  • The Aqualoc does not indicate daily usage. It only indicates total usage, as many water meters do. It uses analogue dials for this purpose. This system also uses a ‘wet’ reading pane. This means there is water inside the reading pane. This is normal. If the water turns green and you cannot read the meter, open a tap ever so slightly to allow water flow. This should clear the reading pane.WDM - reading the digital meter

WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE LIVING WITH MY WDM EASIER?

  • Frequently check for leaks – any leak on your side of the meter will reduce your daily allowance and cause the valve to close. Remember, not all leaks are visible. Some remain undetected for days and even weeks. Make a point to check for leaks at least once a week.
  • Familiarise yourself with the procedure to report WDM problems. Report the problem to COCT, get a reference number and then contact the supplier directly, if required, in an emergency. Both Aqualoc’s and Utility Systems’ support numbers are available on the internet. We may not like it, even deny it, but failure of electronic devices is a reality. If dirt enters the system and causes the device to fail, it is unfortunate, but NOT necessarily the fault of the device. Both devices are NRCS approved, so they are not of bad quality. The approval documents for both have been upload to Files on the FB Group.
  • I can hear you asking: “How do we prevent dirt from entering the system?”. This will be an issue to be discussed with COCT – a filter of some sort may have to be installed before the device. However, filters tend to clog, and will have to be maintained and cleaned. So, this is not an easy challenge to resolve.
  • Audit your personal water usage – know proactively how much you use. Manage your allocated amount carefully.

Now you know….

Disclaimer: WSWC is not affiliated with any of the two suppliers mentioned above. The info provided was posted in good faith and serves to inform members regarding the WDM devices.

Cape Water and Dams Report

photo-wk-berm-sokolic-gacci-27658115_10160184996450085_5877882200537258720_n Dams – Latest levels: Winelands and Cape Town

Report nr. 89 (updated 12th February 2018) on the main dams serving

Cape Town City and nearby Boland/Overberg towns

 

Last week, net outflows from the main dams dropped further to 5.8 M.cuM, or 0.7% of total dam capacity; vs the preceding week’s higher 7.2 M.cuM. Combined dam levels dropped during last week from 25.2% of capacity to 24.5% of capacity

In 2017, the main dams dropped by a far larger 10.4 M.cuM, falling 1.2% to 35.7% of full capacity.

2018-02-12-3

Current status?

Combined water stored in the 6 main dams fell to 218.1 M.cuM (133 M.cuM of easily accessible water) (last year, levels dropped to 317 and 235 M.cuM respectively over the same period).

How long will the remaining fresh water last?

It is now clear that DWS has cut the use of water for irrigation purposes at or about the agreed 40% level. At the same time, the non-agricultural use of water has also dropped sharply as the new level-6b restrictions come into effect. According to my calculations, this past week the use of 5.8 M.cuM of water from the dams could probably have been split more or less as follows:

  • metro 3.6 M.cuM,
  • evaporation 1.7 M.cuM
  • other municipalities 0.4 M.cuM
  • residual agriculture 0.3 M.cuM
  • assume some rainfall run-off -0.2 M.cuM

Therefore the main target remains to drive use in the Metro down to the target of 450 ML/day and together with the other smaller municipalities down to a combined result less than 500ML/day.

The main irreducible current cause of the weekly drop in the combined dam levels is evaporation. Fortunately, evaporation will begin to decline as the ambient temperatures start to fall. By April it will be less than half of what it is now, and by June it will have halved again.

Of course a major once-off positive contributor over the coming 6-8 weeks will be water transferred from the Groenland Water Users Association pumped across into Steenbras Dam. This is expected to amount to some 8-10 M.cuM of fresh water, which should add two week’s supply to the WCWSS for the Metro and other municipalities. A life-saving, selfless donation by those farmers.

This unexpected inflow of water taken together with continued reduction in water use by residents indicates that water currently stored in the dams could well last until between mid- and end-June before the implementation of stage-2 (collection/rationing) of water supplies may be required.

The chart below indicates the position at the start of February. It is too early for a mid-month correction but the early indications are that my currently predicted water consumption for the month will again prove to be too high and that in February we will use less water than the 37.8 M.cuM expected. Remember also that the red block indicates that point where, had our water usage followed the same pattern as last year, we would already have hit “Day Zero”.

2018-02-12-2

What actually is going on?

2018-02-12-agriculture-use

1) As this CoCT graph shows, most agricultural use of water has been closed off by DWS and the earlier steep rising usage curve is now starting to “flat-line” at/about the set maximum of 58 M.cuM for the total water used. Other than remaining pockets of unused quotas, use of water from the main dams by agriculture is all closed for this season.

2) It may be seen from the photo at the head of this report that DWS is modifying Voelvlei and Theewaterskloof dams to enable part of the water that lies in the deepest part of the dams to be pumped up to the level of the abstraction points, so that more of the water can be made available for the Metro and municipalities. At TWK (shown) the work involves creating a temporary berm to hold flows from the Sonderend River at a higher level for easier abstraction. Should these natural flows be insufficient, then more water will be pumped up from below this temporary berm to above it so that water can be sent through to the Berg River side. Through these modifications, DWS expects to be able to draw both these dams down to about 6% of capacity should that become necessary.

3) Residents of the Metro and other smaller municipalities are obviously making great strides to reduce their consumption of fresh water. As a result, Cape Town City which until recently seemed so stuck at a usage of 600ML/day has over a few weeks dropped sharply to ave 493ML/d during this past week. This is an outstanding result and shows just how well the residents are reacting to the call to use less water. The goal is to as soon as possible get this daily consumption down to 450ML/d or less. And it seems to me that could be achieved before end-February. We done everyone.

The following heavily altered CoCT tracker chart shows in overall terms what is going on (see here for a detailed explanation of how the chart is to be read).

City of Cape Town held its prediction of “Day Zero” at 11th May 2018 (point red ‘X’ in the chart). Although CoCT remains conservative in its estimates, this may be adjusted soon to a yet later date.

We are today at point red ‘Y’ (24.5% of capacity on 12th February). However, we are not only benefiting from the savings made by agriculture (the blue striped zone “E”, but more importantly as anticipated residential water usage reductions kick in (the blue-shaded zone “H”) we are starting to follow the curving dotted white line, trending toward point “I” on the revised lower line “C” at which the authorities would have to implement stage-2 collection/rationing of the disaster plan.

Our hope then is that winter rains together with early water production from augmentation initiatives (area “K”) will lift us on to the red dotted line “L” denoting steady recharge of the dam storage.

2018-02-12-5

Therefore, I would like to suggest that instead of the dark negativity of “Day Zero” we now set ourselves a positive fixed target that we call “Success Day” and make that target getting to 30th June with at least 100 M.cuM of water left in the main dams. This would represent about 11% of capacity and, assuming that the DWS is indeed prepared to drop the dam levels down to 6-7%, would leave a safety margin of some 4-5%; so that even if we receive no rain at all there would still be enough water in the dams to support a stage-2 rationing program through until end-2018 by which time a number of augmentation initiatives will be producing extra water to relieve the situation.

In support of this notion of “Success Day” the present augmentation plans comprehend the production of 80ML/day of fresh water by July and 180ML/day of fresh water by December 2018.

More positively, if we can reach end of June with that much water still available, then we will be well into the rainy season and even with weak winter rainfall, recharge of the dams would have begun.

What are the authorities doing now?

The City of Cape Town reports that 526 ML/day of water was consumed from all sources but that it only used 493 ML/day drawn from the main dams. This implies that the augmentation initiatives have progressed to the point that they are producing the difference i.e. 33ML/d of fresh water.

The Metro has embarked on a massive information campaign using all possible ways to make the broader population aware of the problem and encouraging them to save water.

The Metro is also developing a program of volunteers to assist with the many tasks that will have to be dealt with if water supply to the taps is cut off, such as assisting at water collection points and caring for the most vulnerable. Read more here to see how you might apply to help.

The level-6b restrictions and sharply increased tariffs appear to be having a marked effect in encouraging less use of water. This is supported by further roll-out of pressure reduction systems  to reduce losses through piping and system failures.

CoCT has announced that it intends to release details of the Points of Distribution on Sunday 18th February. Sensibly, work on these expensive installations will be delayed until the last possible moment, in the hope that they are not needed at all.

The two initial temporary desalination plants at Monwabisi and Strandfontein are reported to be about 70% complete and should start producing fresh water next month. On the other hand, work on the V&A desalination plant has been delayed by intervention of the DWS Minister wanting a desalination unit from Durban to be installed there.

Drilling into the Cape Flats and TMG aquifers is proceeding.

DWS is making rapid progress on constructing the berm and pumping installations at Voelvlei and Theewaterskloof dams. It should be noted the cost of this work, being R12-15 million in each case, has been funded by DWS.

Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen stated that central government is working on the possible proclamation of a national state of emergency. To date three provinces (Western, Eastern and Northern Cape) have been declared local disaster zones, but this planned escalation would mobilise more resources of the state to assist all parts of the country facing the widening shortage of water.

See details of Cape Town’s  planned interventions to produce fresh water here.

Learn about water savings efforts by other Cape municipalities – read more here.

Hear me interviewed on Bok Radio here about the overall water situation in the western Cape

Do visit the City of Cape Town website to see additional graphically presented information regarding the water situation – very helpful.

1) See the full water status presentation here and

2) Check out water usage for your property and of neighbours, friends, using this interactive map.

What ought you to be doing?

1) Be “water warriors” at home and at the place of work. Make extra efforts to cut down on all possible use of water. By using a basin and large sponge, reduce the water used to shower to under one litre. One can do this daily with hair washed and oneself totally cleaned. All one gives up is the luxury of standing under a hot shower; a small price to pay for water security.

2) Join dependable social media groups and form local WhatsApp groups so as to stay in touch and benefit from tips and suggestions on how to reduce use of water. Have a look at this link.

3) Take care of personal hygiene and reduce health risks. Treat grey water being saved for flushing with Jik or vinegar to prevent smells and possible spread of bacteria. Wash hands regularly.

If you are a business owner or manager, I strongly recommend that, if you have not already done so, meet with your employees and take them into your confidence regarding what you believe may happen to your business as this situation unfolds. The situation is unprecedented and no one will have points of reference or past experience to draw upon. Employees are likely to be concerned and perhaps even fearful about their jobs, incomes and how they will cope.

By discussing the matter you would simultaneously make them all fully aware of the seriousness while encouraging their participation in implementing ways to cut down on water usage and may even generate good ideas on how to mitigate the possible negative impact of water rationing. One concept to consider – if it would be appropriate in the event of a possible slow-down or loss of some business – is to perhaps adopt a policy of work-sharing where those working in the same departments or doing the same work could between them share whatever reduced work might still be available in return for flex-time time off while earning proportionately reduced incomes. The main advantage being that some familiar work is far better than none.

Will the weather help?

2018-02-12-forecast-chartWell, as predicted, that cold front came through last weekend and variable amounts of rain fell across the SW Cape. Gratifyingly some rain fell in all the dam catchments. Run-off will already have reached dams with more to come. A good 33 mm of rain was measured at Dwarsberg which feeds the Berg River and TWK dams.

As I write there is a low pressure system north of Cape Town feeding rain with the possibility of thundershowers from the North West down towards Agulhas. Rains could be fairly widespread as this chart from NOAA/CPC indicates, with the possibility of stronger rainfall behind the mountains in the catchments area of the large dams. If you are lucky enough to be under a cloud …

Here is the rainfall chart for the dam catchments for the period since 1st April 2017. This tracks rainfall that is measured actually falling at the dams.

2018-02-12-1

In Summary: outflows exceeded inflows by 5.8 M.cuM and combined dam levels fell to 24.5%.

Here are the levels of the six main dams serving the Cape Town/Overberg/Boland area.

2018-02-12

Here are some of our updated thoughts of possible implications of “Day Zero”.

Plan ahead for possible water outages; here are points that could help.
Read our Indoors Water Savings Ideas here.
Read our Outdoors Water Savings Ideas here

Read about a D-i-Y household rainwater harvesting and tank system here

Read about South Africa’s desalination policies and initiatives.

Click here to see Winelands Weather forecast of possible near-term rain.
Report instances of piping failures and incorrect use to municipalities.

In Cape Town the contact details of the 24-hour Technical Operation Centre are: Email: waterTOC@capetown.gov.za Telephone: 0860103089 (choose option2: water-related faults) or SMS: 31373 (max 160 characters).

Tom Brown.

Retired international businessman with a background in Finance and IT; and now a fruit farmer.

Views expressed in this article, and comments in response, are those of the writer and commenters alone and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of ShowMe, nor is any warranty hereby given as to suitability for any purpose of a reviewed enterprise or as to the quality of offered advice, products, services or value. Copyright ShowMe Paarl. All rights reserved. Copy only with prior permission.



#ReduceTo50 – Step 3. The shower.

OK, so we’re all at some point in the journey to “50 litres per person per day”. None of us want to be queueing for 25l at a Point of Distribution. In the 1st post, we covered the need to find and read your water meter and know where the main stopcock is. In the 2nd we discussed the fact that the toilet in your house swallows more potable water than anything else, after any pool or garden you may have. Today, we talk about baths & showers.

Step 3. The shower.

Baths are so 2014; no one should be bathing much any more. You will battle to make the 50l per person target, if you are bathing instead of showering. If you have access to alternate sources of water (like a wellpoint, or rainwater) your bath can be used to store that water to be used for flushing the loo and cleaning the house. If you have a small child that needs to bath, you can either invest in a baby-dam, or buy a large basin.

Buy a low flow shower-head for your showers, or at least fit flow restrictors behind the showerhead. Shower every other day or every 3rd day if you can, using a washcloth and basin or a spray-bottle to sponge-bath on the days you don’t shower. You’re not going to die, and in fact you may find your skin will in fact be healthier for it. If you need to, use a bit more deodorant than you’re used to. Obviously if you work in a coal-mine every day, you’re going to have to be creative about bathing – maybe save some of the grey water to get the worst off!

Stand in a large basin while you shower, catch the cold water in a bucket while waiting for the hot to come through (and throw that in the bath) or better still, while summer is still baking the dry land, skip the hot and wash with cold. Wet yourself as quickly as you can, turn off the tap, soap and lather, then only turn the tap back on to rinse the soap off. This should not take more than 120 seconds and can be achieved in closer to 60 once you get practiced and if your hair is not as long as Rapunzel.

The grey water you catch in the basin you stood in can be transferred to one of a number of buckets you need to organise next your loo so that you no longer have to flush with clean potable water.

Another source of grey water is the washing machine, but more on that in the next post…

#ReduceTo50
#DontQfor25

Water Leak Rebate – How to Claim

water leak rebate

EEK, I HAVE A LEAK

water leak rebate - house leakingThe municipal bill has arrived in the post.  You open it leisurely, expecting to see a very low water account, after all, you have been saving water like crazy. WHAT…, how can this be? Forty kiloliters used for the month? It is impossible! You may have a leak… Consider claiming for a water leak rebate.

HOW DO I KNOW I HAVE A LEAK?

Do the quick leak test – ensure all taps are closed and no water is being used (no geysers filling up, washing machine being used, etc).  Observe the water meter. All digits and dials must be stationary. Nothing must move. If any dial or digit moves ever so slightly, you probably have a leak. Call a plumber to fix the leak as soon as possible, as you will be held liable for the water loss.

OK, IT IS A LEAK AND I LOST A LOT OF WATER, NOW WHAT?

The City’s bylaws allow for a water leak rebate on undetected leaks.  This means that a reduction will only be allowed for underground leaks, or ‘leaks that are not otherwise visible to the eye’, in the primary plumbing system of the property. Leaks on plumbing to convenience fixtures such as irrigation systems, automatic filling systems to ponds, pools, fountains, etc, where the disconnection of these systems from the primary plumbing installation would have prevented the water wastage in the first instance, are excluded.

Bottom line? – If the leak was not visible to the eye or underground, and originated from the primary plumbing system, then you may qualify for a water leak rebate.

WHAT ARE THE CONDITIONS FOR A REBATE?

To qualify for a rebate, the following conditions will apply:

  • An owner is limited to one rebate claim in respect of each property that he or she owns. So, you cannot claim for a leak at a specific property more than once.
  • The cost of the wasted water will be shared equally between the City and the property owner, so the owner will always have to pay half.
  • The cost of the water will be calculated at the bulk water cost plus the estimated actual distribution cost. The City will therefore not make a profit on the wasted water.
  • The rebate will be calculated by comparing the average consumption over a corresponding period, to the increased consumption due to the leak. So, if your previous average consumption was 7KL per month, and the leak caused a consumption of 14KL, then the City will share the leak ‘induced’ wastage of 7KL with you.
  • The rebate period will extend over the last three ‘actual reading’ municipal bills. The City believes that you should have noted the excessive water use within three months and taken steps to fix the leak within this period. In the case of estimated bills, this period may be extended. What this means is that if it took you five months to realise you have a leak, they will only consider a rebate on the first three months.
  • To get a rebate, you will have to apply and pay for the installation of a water management device (WDM). This is to reduce the risk of further water losses from leaks.
  • An inspector of the City will come to verify that the leak has been fixed, before any rebate will be approved.

Bottom line? If you are willing to accept all the above conditions, then you can go ahead and apply for a rebate.

I’M HAPPY, HOW DO I APPLY FOR THE WATER LEAK REBATE?

A qualified plumber needs to repair the leak. This plumber must supply you with a plumbing certificate (also known as Plumbers’ Report) detailing the following:

  • Exact location of the leak on the property,
  • The nature of the leak; and
  • Steps taken to repair the leak.

Take this Certificate to your closest walk-in municipal office.  Inform them you want to apply for a rebate due to an undetected leak.  You are welcome to take your recent accounts with you, but they will do a verification on the system regardless.  If you qualify, there will be a plethora of forms to be completed, including the application for a WDM.

Do not expect immediate action, an inspector will visit your property in due time to verify the quality of the leak repair.  Only after he or she submitted their report (assuming the repair was done to his or her satisfaction), will the City finally approve the rebate.

SHOULD I DO ANYTHING ELSE? I AM A WATER SAVER AND DO NOT WANT TO GET A FINE…

This part is optional, but I did that when I had a leak and no fine was forthcoming…

I suggest you send an email to water@capetown.gov.za and inform them that you had a leak and are not a serial water waster. Attach the plumbing certificate as proof and remember to include your account number.  A short email will do – just inform them about the leak, ask them to make a note on your account and to provide you with a reference number.  This should be sufficient to prevent a fine.

Disclaimer – if you were a high water user before the leak, this email will not assist in preventing a possible fine.