Water restrictions and punitive water tariffs in Kouga

Kouga residents will have to pay more than double for their water bill each month once punitive tariffs come into effect 1 January 2017.

Kouga Council yesterday approved the immediate imposition of water restrictions across Kouga, at is last meeting of 2016 yesterday. 15 December.  Punitive measures mean for example, that a household that was using 35kl of water per month and paying R354, will have to pay R578 for the same amount of water once the punitive restrictions have been approved. And if the Kouga Council ups its punitive tariffs, the same household will pay R847 a month.

But many St Francis Bay residents are furious as the town is sitting on so much underground water that used to be available and was used by the town’s residents and those in Cape St Francis before it was decided by the previous Kouga Council to use water from PE instead.  St Francis Chronicle has received many complaints from residents and holiday home owners,  while several  Sea Vista residents have bewailed steeper tariffs

Nelson Mandela Bay Metro’s water crisis is having an impact on the Kouga region, the Executive Mayor, Elza van Lingen, says. Because the Metro has reintroduced punitive water restrictions, these will now be passed on to Kouga which uses the Metro’s water.

Asked to comment, in a snap survey, several St Francis Bay resident publishable comments included: “Why should St Francis Bay have to have water restrictions when we have so much water and there are boreholes. This is ironic.”

“It is unfair to punish St Francis Bay for using the same amount of water they have been using for 6 decades,” one elderly lady pensioner said.

“St Francis Bay is an upmarket area. Must we now sit with dry empty swimming pools and dying gardens?” a lady with a most beautiful collection of exotic plants,”  complained.

”We pay high rates to live in an exclusive area.”

“Increased water bills is really going to hurt the poor and working class,”  some Sea  Vista residents spoken to, said.

“We must get the underground pipes repaired and use the underground water so St Francis Bay, Sea Vista and Cape St Francis residents can be exempt from   these severe penalties,” was suggested by most.

Water expert, Chris Cowling from Cape St Francis commented on some of these residents’ complaints. He said the borehole water can be used, but it would be an expensive exercise.

In the past, each year-end  St Francis would run out of water as the pumps could not cope with the huge extra use of water from all the visitors, Cowling said.  He also maintained that bigger pumps and would be costly 
and that the current underground water contains corrosive elements that damages kettles, dish washer and washing machines.

In addition he further maintained the St Francis Bay underground water does not meet the SA regulatory standard,  Reverse Osmosis would have to be done on the water and this is expensive,  poorer communities do not use much water and some affluent areas like Constantia in Cape Town have water restrictions.

The Metro has apparently given Kouga a mandate to reduce the area’s water usage by 15% by the end of March 2017.

Failure to comply will lead to the Metro imposing punitive tariffs upon Kouga. These will remain in effect until the Nooitgedacht Water Scheme comes online in 2019.

If Kouga does not cut its water usage by 15% by the end of March, the Council will have to consider upping the punitive tariffs, the mayor warned.

Affected towns include Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp, St Francis Bay, Cape St Francis, Oyster Bay, Patensie, Hankey, Loerie and Thornhill. 

The following will be prohibited once water restrictions have been approved by Council:

* The use of hosepipes, sprinklers and drip systems

* The watering of gardens, lawns and grassed areas.

* The washing of paved areas, walls, roofs, buildings and similar structures, vehicles or other equipment

* The filling of swimming pools, paddling pools, fountains and ponds

* The connection of a hosepipe or any form of irrigation system to a tap supplying water from the municipal water supply system, except for fire-fighting purposes.

The mayor, who said borehole water is a finite resource,  indicated that Council will have to look at other ways of increasing the water supply over the long term, including the possible development of a desalination plant.

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