Many residents of the City of Cape Town have complained about inaccurate water meter readings in recent months, causing the City to urge those who feel their bill is unusually high to check for water leaks.
“The City’s issues hundreds of thousands accounts per month, ” the City said. “Although inaccurate billing is always regrettable, in fact only a very small percentage of accounts contain billing errors.”
The City has been inundated with reports from consumers who have received significantly higher bills than usual. Although the City will investigate each and every account query sent in, the reason for significantly higher bills are likely to be attributed to underground leaks.
“These are the responsibility of private property owners to fix,” the City said. “However, customers may apply to the City for a rebate if there are mitigating circumstances. We have also enhanced our program of fixing leaks for our low-income residents.”
A consumer’s water bill account is the very first indication that something is amiss.
“Some underground leaks are easy to detect, while others require an expert leak detection professional or plumber,” the City said. “Customers are encouraged to read their own water meters at least weekly to monitor their consumption and pick up any problems that may arise, as soon as possible.”
However, there are some specific cases where water meters cannot be read. These include reasons such as water meter inaccessibility, and will result in water meter readings being based on previous water readings.
Since March 2018, the City has gone to greater lengths to improve the accuracy of water bills. Estimations are now based on a three-month estimation rather to avoid a once-off spike in the account.
The City has also noted that there is a misconception that it is trying to make more money by keeping to the current water restrictions and tariffs in place despite the water situation improving.
” The City does not make a profit on the sale of water,” the City reiterated. “Income is used only for water services. When the restrictions are lowered, more water is sold and so the tariffs are lowered to achieve the same total income.”
Alderman Ian Neilson, Deputy Mayor of the City of Cape Town, had previously said that the current water restriction, which are at level 6B, will only be lifted if dams reach a provincial average of 85% or at the end of the rainy season.
Residents are urged to continue their water saving efforts, as the restrictions gazetted by the Department of Water and Sanitation still stand.
“To give our consumers some hope and relief, we have communicated our intention to propose lower restrictions and the associated tariffs in the near future but that this decision is dependent on the national government assessment of the situation and its decision about the gazetted restrictions,” the City said. “We await feedback but continue to caution that we must all carry on conserving water so that we can build a buffer for the summer ahead.”
If a consumer’s meter is inaccessible, the consumer can submit his or her meter reading by using the e-Services facility on the City’s website or by phoning the reading in by calling 0860 103 089.