Advice and Opinion

Sectional title schemes and the adjustments to water billing


Many densely-populated areas of South Africa are under strain when it comes to water supply, and it is particularly tough for those residing in certain areas of the Western Cape which is suffering from a severe drought at present.

To this end, the City of Cape Town has implemented Level 4b water restrictions (as of the 1st July 2017) which means serious cutbacks in the usage of municipal drinking water – 87 litres per day is what they are asking people to use and the 6kl free water allowance will no longer be available for homes that are non-indigent, i.e. households are now billed from the first kilolitre used.  Sanitation charges will also apply from the first kilolitre, there is now only a free allowance for indigent households.

“Sectional title scheme trustees will have to reassess recouping costs for water as this will mean that an extra amount will be payable by each resident within their scheme (around R53) in addition to their usual water consumption and sanitation bill”, says Michael Bauer, general manager of property management company IHFM.

Water tariffs are calculated on a sliding scale – the more used, the higher the tariff, which makes it important to scrutinise water bills carefully, so that the correct amounts are recouped from each member.

“The installation of prepaid or sub-metered water meters will possibly be the answer to help monitor these amounts if this has not already been done, as this will help eliminate abuse and incorrect calculations”, said Bauer.

Trustees should also be vigilant in monitoring residents’ usage of water in their complexes as the City is willing to fine those who overuse water while the restrictions are in place.

It might be worthwhile, says Bauer, to send out a round-robin notice to all residents, reminding them of the Level 4b water restrictions, which include the following:

  • No hosing down of paved surfaces with municipal drinking water.
  • No irrigation/watering with municipal drinking water allowed.
  • No washing of vehicles, trailers, caravans or boats with municipal drinking water. They must be washed with non-drinking water or cleaned with waterless products or dry-steam cleaning processes.
  • Private swimming pools may not be topped up or filled with municipal drinking water.
  • Use of portable play pools prohibited.
  • Water features may not use municipal drinking water.

“As it seems likely we will be going into the next summer with the same water restrictions, we need to encourage residents to be more careful about how they use water. During times of short water supply, water usage needs to be more strictly managed and everyone has to do their part,” says Bauer.