The City of Cape Town is to install water management devices at high water consumption properties in an attempt to reduce water losses.
The water management device is a meter which replaces the existing meter and is programmed to dispense a pre-agreed amount of water each day.
"This amount can be set to just the free 6Kl [200 litres per day], or can be set to a daily amount that for those who are in receipt of the monthly R30 indigent grant would only cost them a few Rand a month, or to any amount the householder can afford to pay," City's Water and Sanitation Director, Sipho Mosai explained.
The project was initiated due to the increased demand for water due to population increase, more development spurred by a growing economy, climatic changes adversely affecting rainfall levels and substantial water loss through leaks.
He said the device was not a prepaid meter as the water flow is normal and once the agreed upon daily allocation has been used, the flow stops until the next morning to encourage consumers to analyse and monitor their water usage and avoid unnecessary wastage.
If a portion of the daily allocation is used, the remainder is carried over to the next day.
However, any unused allocation cannot be carried over to the next month.
Mr Mosai said the high water consumption properties are often occupied by poor families and the high consumption is frequently caused by leaks.
He said when a resident agrees to have a water management device installed and is registered indigent; the city will repair all internal leaks before the meter is set to allocate the daily amount.
"Further important benefit is that, should the resident be registered indigent and for six consecutive months continue to pay for monthly water use plus an agreed amount to reduce arrears, they can then apply to have their water and sanitation debts written off," Mr Mosai said.
He however noted that the device is not intended only for residents who have arrears.
The city has installed 7 500 devices in Atlantis, Brown's Farm, Constantia, Delft, Gugulethu, Lost City, Ocean View, Parklands, Samora Machel, Table View and Westbank and it targets to install 20 000 by mid-2009.
It is proposed that for the next three to five years, all new developments including high domestic water users will have their existing meters replaced by the water management device, thereby saving the money that would have been lost through leaks.
The city will however not be offering a free leak-fixing service to all residents, should leaks be detected, a qualified plumber must be employed to repair them, said Mr Mosai.
The device will also serve as an early warning system and should a leak occur, the allocated amount of water will quickly be dissipated causing the device to shut off until the next morning.
It will alert the resident to the existence of a leak and the need to investigate and have it fixed; the most water that will be wasted is one day's allocation, so it will prevent unexpectedly high water bills, said Mr Mosai. - BuaNews