Just paid for your water tank and waiting for your reduced water consumption municipal account to arrive?
This joy will be short-lived as the City of Cape Town has a huge surprise in store for Cape Town residents. Next week the council is rubber stamping a new water levy, designed to top up your water account to previous levels, by adding a water surcharge.
According to Patricia de Lille at the Cape Town Press Club, the City will be rubber-stamping a new water levy for Cape Town residents. The Mayor worded this as follows:
“The way we have structured the surcharge is to strive to make sure that you don’t pay more than you used to pay before the drought, but its subject to approval by the minister and by the council, and by next week we will have more information that we will make public.”
If you think that you have spent money on your water tank system, and that therefore you were going to be able to offset it against a lesser water bill, you are sorely mistaken. The City of Cape Town has other plans for you.
How does this come about? The explanation is a phenomenon called a municipality.
Any normal business that loses money because of a drop in sales has to seriously look at cutting costs to survive. Most businesses do not survive in a reduced revenue environment and have to close their doors.
This is not true for our country’s municipalities of which the City of Cape Town is at the forefront. Consumers are saving on their water consumption – which is firstly a noble quest, as water is a scarce commodity, and the Western Cape is suffering the effects of a real reduction in rainfall in the area. Consumers heeded the call of the City fathers to reduce their consumption of water and took expensive steps to augment their home-use water supply.
This was done by investing in water tanks and the re-use of grey water in the household. Most residents go even further and carry buckets of water around to fill their toilets with water from washing machines and baths.
This is a tedious process for most, but to date, I have not read of any resident complaining about this extra burden.
The expectation is widely held that these savings will be reflected in a reduced water account each month.
At this stage, people are keenly comparing water bills and are boasting amongst each other how much they have saved in real consumption, as well as their smaller (cost) water accounts.
This will be short-lived, as the City of Cape Town is introducing a water surcharge designed to get your bills exactly back to previous amounts. The City just does not care that you have invested money in water tanks and other water-saving devices in your home.
Are Cape Town residents really that resilient, able to absorb this new price shock which is coming about because they are merely doing their best to save water?
The City council will be debating and voting on this surcharge NEXT WEEK. Then it will go to the minister at the treasury, Mr Malusi Gigaba, for final approval.
Is this fair? Is this equitable? How can we allow a municipality to claw-back lost revenue by just simply adding surcharges without consulting us? Is it not time, then, that businesses should start doing the same – to place surcharges on their products when sales drop?