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.


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.


Water Leak Rebate – How to Claim

water leak rebate


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.

Cape Dams Levels – weekly report (003)

 ShowMe Winelands

Cape Dams Levels – weekly report nr. 003

as at 12th November 2018

Wemmershoek Dam photo Oct16                                                         [Wemmershoek Dam, 90.2% full. Photo: DWS]


The levels of the six main SW Cape dams, as reported by DWS for the week, showed a smaller net outflow of 6.1 M.cuM and total volume of water stored fell to 648.8 M.cuM; i.e.  from 73.6% to 72.9% of overall capacity.

During the same week in 2017 the total volume stored fell by 8.7 M.cuM (0.9%)

2018-11-12A week ago the Metro was still drawing heavily from the Steenbras dams but that that has reportedly changed and water is currently also being drawn from Voelvlei Dam. The Berg River and Theewaterskloof dams should now start to reflect the effect of outflows to agriculture.

The following chart shows the weekly change in the total amount of water stored. Note that I have changed the colour coding in order to make it easier to follow present changes [2017/18 is now shown in green and current 2018/9 is now shown in red, emerging left].

2018-11-12.3                                                    [click on the graph to see an enlarged version]

I expect that the red line will tend to follow the general shape of the green and black lines for the coming three months, probably lying somewhat between the two and more towards the black line (which denotes 2016) due to the latest easing of restrictions. In both instances supplies of water to the irrigation boards had commenced by this stage. It is likely that around end of January 2019 that they will diverge more sharply as distribution of water to agriculture continues in 2019, whereas it was cut off during February 2017, as the green graph clearly shows.


It is expected that agreement on water allocations will be reached and announced by DWS this coming week.  There will be no gazetting needed as an emergency condition no longer applies.

Once DWS has set water allocations for the irrigation boards and municipalities, the latter will then decide and announce appropriate levels of restriction to be applied to their communities in order to conform with the allocations, and publish the changed tariffs.


The weather is quickly taking on the normal summer pattern with the dominant high pressure zone statically positioned over the Cape. No significant rain is forecast until next week when light rain will brush the southernmost Cape, perhaps bringing small inflows to the Steenbras dams. Beyond that there is some promise of thundery weather around 5th/6th December that may see 20-30mm of rain falling if one finds oneself under the storm.

El Nino is continuing to move into place but is not fully there yet – it needs two more months of above-average sea temperatures to become classified as a fully-fledged El Nino condition.


The Cape Metro has just released this revised drought monitoring chart which clearly shows the “safe zone” extent to which stored water could be drawn down across the summer season. This too shows that under the worst circumstances the low point of storage of some 300 M.cuM could be reached at around May 2019. This would be a comfortable situation with adequate reserves.



Against this background, a number of readers have expressed concern about the possible ill-effects should current restrictions be eased.

While this is a natural response after the stresses of the past few years, I feel that I must reiterate that we do have considerable stores of water and it needs to be used. An appropriate outcome is that water should be used steadily across summer so that by following winter there is space for fresh rainfall to recharge the dams back up to a good level (ideally 80% or better), as has often happened before. This will still leave a good reserve in case the following rains are less strong. The fall-back would be to reimpose restrictions if the following rains fail altogether.

Because if we do not use the water, then tariffs will be forced to remain too high and cause unnecessary hardship. Furthermore, good following rains would cause the then over-full dams to spill and that new water would flow to the sea and be completely wasted.

So we should use but certainly not abuse our water. However, maintaining maximum restrictions is not the correct answer. This past drought is likely to be the worst that will happen in our lifetimes. It would be irrational to impose an unnecessarily harsh lifestyle based on an exceptional event that is unlikely to recur.


To remain fully informed you may like to check the following items weekly
  • City of Cape Town weekly “Water Dashboard“, to be found here.
  • Our 7-day & 24-hour weather report here shows probable rain in Boland dam catchments.
  • SA Weather Services current Synoptic Chart here showing the currently developing weather.
  • Look at our supporting current monthly report here.


Tom Brown.
Retired international businessman with a background in Finance and IT; and now a fruit farmer, with a passion for the weather and climate.
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.


Looking hopeful, but early days yet.

The latest data point on the cumulative storage for Cape Town dams shows that inflows are now tracking the median value for the last 70 years.  If the rains pick up even more, we could start beating the average, which is vital if we want make up the shortfall created by the last few years.  If it falls back, then it is even more critical that we maintain a conservative approach to water usage well into next winter.

The key is not to get complacent.

Cape Town households use less than 6000 litres pm

stock-photo-tap rev1

Over 200,000 Cape Town households use less than 6000 litres/month

(Repeated from Cape Town City media release) 29th May 2018


The monthly update of the water map for April shows that 211 000 households have achieved the dark green water-saving dot for their water saving efforts. This marks a slight decrease but it is heartening to see that a large number of households are still going green.


The dark green dot for water saving is awarded to households who are using 6 000 litres or less per month.

Water map data since December 2017 shows the following trend:


Number of dark green dots


150 000


154 000


203 000


219 000


211 000


Visit to view the latest map.


Consumption is indicated on the map as follows:

  • Dark green dot: household using less than 6 000 litres per month
  • Light green dot: household using between 6 000 and 10 500 litres per month
  • Grey dot with small dark green centre: estimated water meter reading of less than 6 000 litres per month
  • Grey dot with small light green centre: estimated water meter reading of less than 10 500 litres per month
  • Solid grey dot: excluded property (including: sectional title property or group housing / undeveloped property / water use is zero / no available information for the property / estimated water meter reading of more than 10 500 litres per month)


Please note: The map simply indicates water consumption for free-standing houses, not compliance with water restriction limits. Households with higher consumption may have many people living on the property, or may have an undetected water leak.

The map shows consumption information from meters read in the previous month, and may include a portion of consumption from the preceding month. This information is updated from the third week of the following month.

Households using more than 10 500 litres per month are not shown on the map. Remember that consumption higher than 10 500 litres per month (no green dot) does not necessarily indicate water abuse.

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.

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.



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


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.


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.


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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


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


  • 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.