Drought charge looms

Mayor Patricia de Lille has proposed a temporary drought charge to be levied to residents’ accounts, saying the stubborn behaviour by some, puts the city in jeopardy of reaching Day Zero much sooner than the anticipated May 2018.

At a full council meeting yesterday, Tuesday December 5, she said dam levels were at 35.1%, while collective consumption stood at 611 million litres a day. The charge would be levied as of the beginning of February next year.

The drought charge, she said, would be a temporary additional charge based on existing property valuations that would assist with the City’s budget shortfall.

It would also need the approval of finance minister Malusi Gigaba.

Ms De Lille said the charge was about survival.

“We all simply need water to survive,” she said.

According to a City statement, Day Zero comes when we reach 13.5% dam storage and residents will have to queue for water from 200 collection sites.

She said the rain last week, had “triggered Capetonians to behave badly and increase their consumption. That brings Day Zero forward”.

Since August, the City has installed nearly 19 000 water management devices at the properties of excessive users.

A campaign will start in the next few days to obtain input from residents and businesses on the drought charge and will run until January 12 next year.

The funds will mainly be used for the day-to-day provision of drinking water and also to ensure that there is sufficient budget available to spend on emergency water augmentation projects if needed.

“As the City has to continue its operations in service provision, the drought charge is necessary to ensure water supply for all residents as acute water shortages will have dire implications for all residents and the local economy.

“If the drought charge is approved in the January 2018 adjustment budget, it will raise approximately R420 million in the 2017/18 financial year and approximately R1 billion per year for the next three years,” Ms De Lille said.

A charge based on property valuations has been deemed the most progressive of the options, while being the most equitable and fair to poor households.

“For this reason, the drought charge will only be applied to residential properties with a valuation of R400 000 and above, and to all commercial properties with a valuation of R50 000 and above.

“As an example, the proposed drought charge will work as follows: for a residential property with a valuation of R800 000, this household could pay a drought charge of R45 and for a property with a valuation of R1 million, the proposed drought charge would be R60.

“The drought charge is only expected to be in place until the end of the 2020/21 financial year (three years).”