NEW OBLIGATIONS FOR PROPERTY OWNERS AIMED AT TIGHTENING THE TAPS ON WATER USAGE
The Water Amendment Bylaw of 2018 (hereafter “the Water Bylaw”) was promulgated on 20 July 2018. In the 7 months that have since passed, many property owners and landlords have been wondering: “what does this mean for me?”.
New obligations under the water amendment bylaw
It is important to note, as a point of departure, that the Water Bylaw does not require property owners to comply with the new obligations with regards to existing installations. Only once the time comes for these property owners to replace, for example, toilets and showerheads due to malfunction, must the replacements conform to the new Water Bylaw.
The Water Bylaw states that: “The Director may at the cost of the owner, install or require the installation of a private submeter, water management device or prepayment meter to each section, business or dwelling unit on any premises for use in determining the quantity of water supplied to each section, business or dwelling unit or portion of the premises”.
There is no general obligation on the property owner to install any water meter device on his own accord, but may be requested to do so by the Director at the expense of the property owner. The installation of any of the above-mentioned devices will allow for a more accurate reflection of the water usage per unit, especially for properties with multiple units.
If private submeters have already been put into place for the different units on the property, the owner, person in charge or the management of the premises must keep a detailed record of the monthly usage of individual units for 24 months.
When the time comes to replace existing infrastructure on the property or if any new buildings are erected on a property, the property owners will have to comply with the new Water Bylaw. The new Water Bylaw states as follows:
the owner, person in charge or management of any premises on which several units are situated, requires the supply of water to such premises for the purpose of supply to the different units or to different portions of the premises, the Director must provide and install a single meter in respect of the premises as a whole…
the owner, person in charge or management of the premises must install and maintain on each branch pipe to the different units an isolating valve and a water management device, prepayment meter or a private sub-meter
Will the new obligations solve the Cape Town Water Crisis?
In the last 7 months since the promulgation of the Water Bylaw, it has elicited positive responses with regards to its aims and efforts towards water sustainability, the nature of the accountability on water users and, especially, thinking ahead to avoid another countdown to Day Zero. Whether the new obligations will have a positive effect on our water usage remains to be seen in the coming months.