The City of Cape Town has implemented Phase One of its Critical Water Shortages Disaster Plan. With water shortages and rationing underway, residents of affected suburbs are seeking alternative ways to keep swimming pools filled and gardens green – even if it’s illegal.

Adverts have been circulating offering bulk water delivery from different sources. You can look at around R5,600 for 10,000 litres, sourced from a Cape Winelands farm that rinses glass bottles. The Cape Winelands District Municipality is unaware of any illegal water sales taking place.

Construction business owner, Henk Meyer told Cape Talk radio that his business would die without water, which he also sells. Meyer invested in a 7,500 litre tank and a truck to collect run-off water from a bottling plant.

Sputnick Ratau, water and sanitation department spokesman, says that governement is the trustee of water resources, including dams, rivers, lakes, pans, wetlands and groundwater.

“It is illegal to sell water. Even the department does not sell water, instead it charges water resource management charges. The municipalities charge service fees for treatment and reticulation. The only case in which water is sold legally is as bottled water,” he said.

Ratau adds that keeping sea water inland requires special authorisation to avoid groundwater contamination.

People should be wary of buying water, advises senior associate at Cullinan and Associates, Mellissa Groenink.

“Under the city’s by-law, a person cannot sell water supplied by the city, unless permission has been obtained from the city. In providing permission, the city may stipulate the maximum price at which water may be sold.”

Report any water related offences to 0800 200 200.

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