New water management system in Cape Town, South Africa ensures that everybody gets 6000 litres free every month as a right

The landmark thing they have done in S. Africa is ensure that everybody gets 6000 litres free every month as a right, since water is essential to life

South Africa: New Water Management System in Cape BuaNews (Tshwane) 5 December 2007 Cape Town The City of Cape Town is introducing a new water demand management system for its residents. It consists of a water management device, which is installed in residents' houses, and a central control team in the City administration that regulates the functioning of these devices with the help of a computer set up. "This system will help our customers to save water and to manage their monthly water bills, and it will help the city to manage debt," the city council said. It will also help residents to identify any leaks and have them fixed, instead of running up a huge water bill and then being unable to pay.

The water management device measures out a specific supply of water on a daily basis, at the pressure and flow rate to which households have become accustomed. It allows residents to receive their free 6 kilolitre portion of water per month, and it allows them to receive an additional amount according to what they commit to paying. The device has been set to deliver an average of 350 liters per day or10.62kl per month (which includes the free 6kl). At this consumption rate, a household's monthly water and sewerage bill will normally be R30. Those residents registered on the city's database of poorer households get a R30 indigent grant. "Should residents require more water they can commit to pay for that additional water, and the water management device will then be set to a higher maximum flow," said the council. "It must be emphasized that this is not the same thing as a pre-paid water meter. This device guarantees a basic daily water supply." The water management device is set to switch on at a fixed time every morning and will only switch off once the household has used its set quota of water for the day. If households use less than their quota in a day the amount not used will be carried over to the next day. For example, if only 250 litres isused in one day, the balance of 100 litres will be carried over to the next day giving a total of 450 litres for that day. Any unused water quota in one month will not be carried over into the next month, however. It is illegal for anyone to tamper with the device, and if they do it will automatically shut off. City officials will have to come out and reinstate the water supply and will issue spot fines. If leaks are identified on a property, the City will come out and fix the leaks free of charge on a once-off basis. So far the City has repaired leaks and installed water management devices in about 4000 houses. We intend to install these devices in all newly built homes, and established residents can also apply to have them installed, by calling the city's water use management offices on (021) 761 0989. The senior management of the city's water department are also having these devices installed in their own homes. "We will replace the current 'trickle system' used for debt management with these devices," said the council. "As a further incentive for people registered on our indigency database to use water responsibly, the City will write off any arrears caused by water leaks if they remain within their quota and pay for any extrawater use for a sustained period of 6 months. "So far we have written off R55 million under this scheme."

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