Drastic water by-laws proposed for Cape Town

Drastic water by-laws proposed for Cape Town

Thanks to the plentiful rains this winter season, Cape Town and surrounds are facing the summer with dams finally 60% full (compared to an average of around 32% at the same time last year). However, the water shortage experienced during the prolonged drought motivated the city council to introduce stricter measures to conserve water and prevent the loss of water due to evaporation and leaks in the city’s pipes. These amendments still have to be finalised but were published in May this year for public information. Law expert John Gilchrist takes a look.

Measures for new property developments

All new complexes in the city will be required to install systems that will ensure water conservation. The developers will have to ensure that the management of each complex (a sectional title body corporate or homeowner’s association in a cluster scheme) will be able to maintain a sound system once the units in the development have been sold off.

Toilet cisterns and shower flows

The water flowing out of a shower head has been reduced from 9.5 litres per minute to 7 litres to prevent unnecessary overuse and wastage. The volume of a toilet cistern has also been pegged at 6 litres (down from 9 litres). These requirements will only apply, however, when existing shower heads and cisterns need to be replaced as a result of wear and tear or irreversible malfunctions.

Swimming pool covers

All swimming pools will have to be covered in future, especially during the summer months (hot and dry in Cape Town), when the pool is not actually in use. The purpose is to prevent water losses through evaporation.

Watering the garden

The time-period during which the watering of gardens may not be done, previously between 10h00 and 16h00, has been extended to between 09h00 and 18h00. This now includes irrigation through borehole water. Once again the measure has been introduced to control evaporation during the hotter hours of the day.

Replacing flushing cisterns

Owners of homes and other buildings will be required to remove all automatic flushing cisterns and to replace them with manual systems or a properly-maintained non-manual system which only operates after each use of a toilet. No periodically operating systems will be allowed to function in future.

Landlords of apartments and complexes

All owners of blocks of flats and similar multi-apartment complexes will be required to keep a record of each unit’s consumption and will be obliged to notify the City Council if any contraventions are occurring. This will require the introduction of separate water meters for each unit.

These somewhat drastic measures will ensure that water conservation not only functions in the city but also that property owners will become conscious of the need to conserve water in every way they can to prevent a reoccurrence of the recent drought which nearly brought the city to a complete loss of its water reserves.

About the author: John Gilchrist is the director of Property Law Publications.

Related articles: Cape Town’s water by-laws could impact community living levies

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