THE WATER WAR IN CAPE TOWN CAPE TOWN | “We have 121 days left of usable water in our dams,” warned Mayor Patricia de Lille. She will now ask Western Cape Environment MEC Anton Bredell for the city to be declared a disaster area, so that it can institu


CAPE TOWN | “We have 121 days left of usable water in our dams,” warned Mayor Patricia de Lille. She will now ask Western Cape Environment MEC Anton Bredell for the city to be declared a disaster area, so that it can institute emergency measures.

“We are in a very serious crisis,” said De Lille, adding the average dam level was at 23% on Monday.

She warned that if dam levels dipped below the 10% mark, water shedding would be implemented, similar to what Eskom did when it was battling to provide enough electricity. She said the 3B restrictions would be intensified, meaning all garden watering will be stopped, and exemptions would be withdrawn.

She said some Capetonians were unfazed, despite tough water restrictions. “Just last week we were still issuing fines to people washing their cars with potable water, people using a sprinkler to water their gardens outside of the designated times, and people using drinking water to wash down hard surfaces,” De Lille reported. Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, law enforcement officer Gershwin Maxim, water inspector Basil van Rooy and Pinelands councillor Brian Watkyns visited some residences in Pinelands.

Mayor Patricia de Lille said the City had issued 36 fines for contraventions of Level 3B restrictions over the past week. The fines ranged from R500 to R2 000, and were issued in 19 areas including Blackberry Mall, Strandfontein; Van der Heever Street, Kuils River; a building site in Mitchells Plain, Riebeeck Street in the CBD, and a building site in Duinefontein Road, Heideveld, among other areas.

She said the City continued to monitor the water usage of the top 20 000 water consumers in formal residences, as well as commercial, industrial and government properties in all suburbs.

“During this time of drought, we have appealed to all residents, businesses and government departments to work with the City of Cape Town to conserve water. Reducing consumption is the key intervention during a time of drought, as international best practice shows,” said De Lille. “No one is escaping our efforts to see to it that consumption is reduced voluntarily, or forcibly, if required. We have such great water ambassadors in every suburb, but we have many rotten apples as well, who are spoiling all of our efforts to conserve water.”

Not so, say the the City of Cape Town’s top two water wasters, who claim the City is the biggest culprit of them all.

On Tuesday, Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille named and shamed 100 residences that used the most water in Cape Town. but unfortunately it quickly backfired on the City.

In Haywood Road, Crawford, where the “No.1 water waster” was said to have used a whopping 702 000 litres of water in just one month, only two old people lived at this particular residence, there was no garden and the pool was nearly empty.

A pensioner, who lives at the property, blamed their high bill on a burst water pipe last month. “I don’t know how we could have used so much water when we are trying to save as much water as we can,” she said.

“We have stopped using the dishwasher and placed buckets in the sink so we can reuse the water for some pot plants we have. We haven’t filled the pool and it is close to empty by now and I have no garden as my entire yard is paved.

“In the first week of February, I had a leakage problem in my front yard and it was running for an entire day. When the council finally came out the man told me with a laugh, ‘your property, your problem’.

“I had to let my insurance company send someone out to fix the problem. They also had to fix the piping in the ground because apparently my water meter was running down fast, but I had nothing running in the house

“I am a pensioner and have been living here for the past 29 years and I have never received such an exorbitant bill ever.”

Number two on the water wasters’ list is a residence in Manenberg Avenue, Manenberg, whose meter showed a massive 655 000 litres of water was used last month.

Manenberg Avenue is made up of maisonettes and blocks of flats. There are no swimming pools or gardens, but plenty of leaking pipes.

Resident Martha Thuysma, 64, said her water meter is so faulty she literally turns her water off to stop her house from flooding.

“At night I have to put my water off because of this faulty water meter,” she said. “We all have the same problem here, faulty meters and leaking pipes from the bathroom.

“If I do not put my water off at night I will wake up to a house flooded with water. It has happened many times already.

“My daughter called how many times to town’s office, but nothing. Hulle praat so van (They talk about) water saving, but they don’t come to fix when there is water leaking. I’m still paying a bill of R2 000 because of leakages; I’m afraid to see what the bill will be now.”

Another resident in Manenberg Avenue, Badroeniesa Ely, 55, said she lives alone, but received a water bill of almost R5 000.

Ely said. “I live alone; my husband and children are dead. I work three times a week and the rest of the time I look after my sick sister-in-law. I literally only come home to sleep. Nou waar kan ek so klomp water gebruik het? (So how can I be using so much water?)”

The other water wasters who make up the top five on the list are: Boundary Road, Lansdowne, who used 557 000 litres; Upper Hillwood Road, Bishop’s Court who used 554 000 litres; and a Bishop’s Court residence in Norwich Drive who used 500 000 litres.

on Wednesday morning, while speaking to Aden Thomas on Heart FM, De Lille’s spokeswoman Zara Nicholson admitted some people were wrongfully blamed. She said officials would now be sent to all high consumers to get to the heart of the matter.

“On 28 February, a report came through that an underground leak has been found in Haywood Road,” she explained. It’s something that is being looked into. Officials will be going out to all those houses to see for any underground leaks.”