Advice and Opinion

Water meters in sectional titles could help to manage the rising cost of water

It could be the right time to install prepaid water meters to monitor consumption and expenditure, says Propell.

With the City of Cape Town implementing Level 2 water restrictions as of 1st January 2016 and the new fees structured to penalise those with higher water consumption, it is perhaps the right time for managing agents and trustees in sectional title schemes to consider installing prepaid water meters to assist residents in managing their consumption and expenditure, said Mandi Hanekom, operations manager for the sectional title finance management company Propell.

The majority of households have their water billed in arrears, which means they receive their accounts the month after the water has been used, and this could produce some “nasty surprises” if the cost has not been anticipated, she said. Individual water meters, particularly prepaid ones, are recommended to keep track of what is used as well as sticking to the budget.

The new fee structure in Cape Town in particular, indicates that in order to continue to pay the same amount each month as one does now, the household would have to reduce 20% of their household water use, which could be problematic to track, she said. For example, if a resident normally uses 24 kl of water every month the usual cost would be R294,62, however, during the implementation of the Level 2 tariff, 24 kl will cost them R344,75.

With a prepaid water meter, it will only allow what is paid for to be used and in this way stick to the household allowances each month.

Many sectional title schemes might not have the funds readily available in their trust accounts but there are options available to finance these apart from raising special levies, said Hanekom.

Special projects such as this can be financed through a loan from Propell, which would mean that the project could be tackled immediately rather than wait to raise all the necessary funds. This then is repaid via a smaller additional amount in the levies each month, making it more manageable for owners to pay for their meters, rather than having to come up with a bulk amount.