Water meter woes

Rollo Dickson, Somerset West

A fixed monthly water surcharge debuts in the proposed new municipal rates. This new add-on is Iiingeniously determined by the size of one’s water meter.

After our own water meter – a simple, straightforward, single row of digits – was stolen in the small hours, it was replaced with a large-size, wondrous cluster of dials, only one of which is ever read.

We were given no choice in choosing this impressive gadget, which failed shortly after installation, stranding us without water for three days.

The technician who eventually attended blamed a “flat battery” for the failure.

An elaborate, electrically powered water meter sounds like an unnecessarily costly piece of machinery and we fear what its official “size” may be, in the light of the new tariffs.

Please can Bolander ascertain  how water meter size is determined, how one finds out what size one has been inflicted with and whether one can choose a smaller size that is less unaffordable?

And is there to be no concession for the 85-plus age group?

Hugely increased charges add further misery to the (for us) back-breaking business of carrying buckets.

Mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, Xanthea Limberg, responds: 

The meter size is determined by the diameter of the connection between the resident’s property and the water main.

This resident’s meter would have been replaced with a meter of the same size otherwise it would not fit the existing connection.

Most residents (95%) are supplied via either a 15mm or a 20mm connection.

It is proposed that residents supplied via a 15mm connection will be charged R64.40/month (incl VAT) and residents supplied via a 20mm connection will be charged R115 per month (incl VAT).

Residents’ connection size will be included on their rates account over the coming months.

Approximately 56% of single dwelling domestic customers (on the domestic full tariff) are on 15 mm properties and 39% are on 20mm ones, which means that more than 95% of households will pay no more than R115 per month including VAT. 

The linkage of the fixed charge to the metered connection size is due to the fact that that it is the best and most equitable mechanism to be
used for the demand placed on the system by the specific property.

The size of the connection would be a function of the “loading” factors on the property. 

Loading factors include the number of taps, showers, baths, geysers, fire connections, type of industry, etc. 

The formula for calculation of the monthly charge is a direct function of the demand placed on the system, i.e. area = pi x radius squared.

In very simple terms, 15mm connection would be for smaller properties, 20mm connection reflects a medium-sized property, etc. 

All non-indigent customers will be expected to pay the fixed charge.

Customers registered as indigent will be exempt, however.

The City assures residents that every effort is being made to keep tariffs as low as possible while still upholding service delivery standards.

However, the severity of the drought we are experiencing and the effect it will likely have on consumption patterns is such that unless significant adjustments are made to the tariff system we could be at risk of running out of water completely.