Boland College students carry water bought at a shop in Beaufort West in the drought-stricken Western Cape. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/ SUNDAY TIMES
Boland College students carry water bought at a shop in Beaufort West in the drought-stricken Western Cape. Picture: ESA ALEXANDER/ SUNDAY TIMES

Cape Town firmly pushed the drought panic button on Thursday.

Mayor Patricia de Lille said the city council was replacing its unpopular proposed drought levy with higher tariffs and a punitive charge for anyone who used more than 50l of water a day.

The new 50l limit will be backed up by a city-wide consumption target of 450-million litres a day.

De Lille told a news conference: "We can no longer ask people to stop wasting water. We must force them."

Households that use up to 6‚000l of water a month‚ currently paying R28.44‚ will see their bill rise to R145.98.

For those who use up to 10‚500l‚ the bill will rise from R109.50 to R390.82.

Then it gets ugly. Households that use up to 20‚000l will see their bill rise from R361.06 to R1‚536.25; up to 35‚000l‚ bills will rise from R1‚050.04 to R6‚939.57; and up to 50‚000l‚ bills will rise from R2‚888.81 to R20‚619.57.

Said De Lille: "I will personally fight to ensue that the proposed punitive tariff exempts those [households] who are using less than 6‚000l per month.

"On the punitive tariff‚ provision will be made for households larger than four people to ensure that they are not unfairly penalised.

"In terms of the drought charge‚ it is likely to be dropped after massive outcry from Capetonians that it was unfair. I understand that response and it has personally been a tough lesson for the city."

De Lille said the result of dropping the drought charge was that "we are now going to have to make deep cuts to important projects".

The new 50l-a-day limit‚ which takes effect on February 1 under level 6b water restrictions‚ was "to make up for the many months of missing the 500-million litre-a-day target"‚ she said.

"The new daily collective consumption target is now 450-million litres per day. This will be in place for 150 days‚ after which the city will reassess. Level 6b will also limit irrigation using boreholes and wellpoints."

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