Flood of complaints about devices

Water management devices installled by the City of Cape Town.

Homeowners deemed guilty of flouting water restrictions have accused the City of Cape Town of clamping their water without warning and using faulty devices to do it.

The City is installing the “water management” devices at households using more than the allowed 87-litres-a-person-a-day limit.

The devices cost between R4 500 and R4 700 and are installed at the homeowner’s expense. They limit a household’s water supply to 350 litres a day.

But some of those who have had the devices fitted have complained on social media that they received no warning letters from the City and that the devices themselves were faulty – leaking or shutting off water for days at a time instead of resetting after 24 hours as they’re supposed to.

Richwood resident Jonathan Viljoen said the City gave him no warning before it clamped his water supply three months ago.

“I was at work when my wife phoned me and said that City of Cape Town law enforcement were here with a company to install a water device. I rushed home and was greeted by a rude and aggressive company installer.

“I explained that I had not received a notice or warning and was then threatened with arrest if I did not install one immediately,” said Mr Viljoen.

He then contacted the City for clarity and was told he was “one of the guilty”.

He was given one of his water bills as “evidence” of his excessive water use.

“The problem with the evidence is that the readings are a guess as my water meter has been broken. I was not told about the device and the way they are treating people like criminals,” he said.

Mr Vijoen said the device leaked, and he had reported that four times to the City only to be told it was his “problem”.

He turned to the Richwood Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Association (RRRA), which helped him get a new device installed on Tuesday December 18.

Xanthea Limberg, mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services, and energy, said excessive users should get a “warning letter” that their properties were registering excessive use.

The letter would ask them to change consumption habits or apply for a quota increase.

“If the customer does not adhere to such, a water management device will be installed,” said Ms Limberg.

Kenny Brookes, chairman of the RRRA said they had had a few complaints about the water devices being installed at properties in Richwood.

“There’s a non-profit organisation which had a water meter device put in because they were going over the threshold. We also have a resident who has one which is leaking and even though this leak has been reported, no repair to this device has been done. Our thoughts are that these water management device installations have been done too hastily,” said Mr Brookes.

Since August, the City has been installing the devices at households using more than 20 000 litres a month. But Ms Limberg warned that from January next year the bar would be lowered to include households using more than 10 500 litres a month.

“People can contact the City to apply for a quota increase before the meter is installed, or after,” she said.

Asked if there was anything people could do to have the devices removed, Ms Limberg said “this was not an option”.

“The water management device, as the name indicates, is meant to assist customers to manage their water usage.

“As it can be set to allow a specific volume of water through the device per day, it can also serve as an early warning system for leaks on the property,” said Ms Limberg.

Those applying to have their household limit increased could do so at a City walk-in centres or by emiling water@capetown.gov.za