Water tariff shock awaits residents

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The Mangaung Metro Municipality’s higher water tariffs have kicked in on 1 December 2016. This means that many residents might get a huge surprise at the end of the December holiday period when they receive their water accounts. The situation is mainly due to the prevailing drought conditions in the Free State and surrounding areas. It also means that the metro is still suffering an urgent water need. The metro has increased its water restrictions three times since July 2015.
Water restrictions were increased to 20 percent on 5 May 2016 (from 15 percent in 2015) and then to 30 percent on 3 November 2016. The latest increase resulted in a change in the water tariff structure of the metro, which had to go up to level 3. This level means residents have to pay more for their clean drinking and household water. The new water tariff structure works in the following manner. All amounts exclude VAT.
* 0-6 kilolitre: R9.95 per kilolitre
* 7-15 kilolitre: R22.97 per kilolitre
* 16-30 kilolitre: R24.47 per kilolitre
* 31-60 kilolitre: R27.42 per kilolitre
* More than 60 kilolitre: R31.08 per kilolitre
Earlier, Democratic Alliance member of the metro council, Rossouw Botha, said the expensive water will hopefully result in residents starting to save more water and use water as requested by the restrictions. A statement was issued by the Department of Water Affairs on 30 November on the condition of the Mangaung water system which includes with four dams of which the average levels were 35.9 percent. The recent rain in the central region only lifted dam levels slightly.
Concerned ward councillors whom Courant has contacted, are unanimous in that residents must realise the metro and surrounding towns are not out of the woods yet with regard to the availability of water for essential use.
A recent report indicated that the MMM is required to meet its 30 percent water saving by decreasing water use in Bloemfontein, Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu by 170 megalitres per day, in Dewetsdorp by 1.96 megalitres per day, Wepener by 0.017 million cubic metres per day.
Bloemfontein Courant has heard that the current saving is in the region of 20 percent. It still needs to be upped to 30 percent.
The imposed water restrictions include the following:
Watering of lawns is prohibited. Watering of plants with buckets is allowed but only on alternate days. The use of hosepipes and irrigation systems is not allowed.
No emptying or filling of swimming pools is allowed. The washing of cars using hosepipes and spray machines is not allowed. Washing of cars is only allowed when a bucket of water is used to wash cars and the hosing of hard surfaces is not allowed.
In terms of the regulation all residents with a borehole within the borders of the metro must inform the MMM of it. The metro has also urged residents to report any burst pipes, water leaks and water wastage immediately. This can be done by calling the following: Call Centre: 0800-111-300 or 051-410-6689 (7:00 – 22:00, 7 days a week); Disaster Management Centre: 051-409-9600 / 051-406-6666 (all hours) and Law Enforcement: 051-405-8771 (all hours). – André Grobler 
andreg@centralmediagroup.co.za