Damned if you do, damned if you don't. That is how Capetonians who have reduced their water consumption must regard the city's plans to introduce a surcharge to cover revenue lost due to water-saving measures residents have implemented. It reminds me of Eskom in 2008, begging middle-class South Africans to switch to energy-saving light bulbs and cut the use of pool pumps and electric appliances, and instructing big energy-guzzling factories to shut production at the peak of the crisis and then keep some production lines closed. Once the crisis was averted, Eskom discovered energy saving meant a shortfall in revenue. Big businesses had found alternative energy sources or were generating their own power from byproducts of their production. They were doing just fine, as were some middle-class homes that had installed solar panels - granted few homes are entirely off the grid, but they are no longer entirely at Eskom's mercy. This, combined with weak economic growth and new capacity the...

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