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How to manage water billing in sectional title schemes

How to manage water billing in sectional title schemes

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.

This is according to Michael Bauer, general manager of property management company IHFM, who says to this end, the City of Cape Town has implemented Level 4b water restrictions (as of 1 July 2017) which means serious cutbacks in the usage of municipal drinking water.

They are asking people to use 87 litres per day, 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.

Bauer says sectional title scheme trustees will have to reassess recouping costs for water as this will mean an extra amount will be payable by each resident within their scheme (around R53) in addition to their usual water consumption and sanitation bill.

He says 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, says Bauer.

He says 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.

Bauer says it might be worthwhile sending out a 'round-robin' notice to all residents reminding them of the Level 4b water restrictions, which includes 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, and we need to encourage residents to be more careful with 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.

Article from property24