The severe water restrictions can have unintended consequences.
Lindsey Gillson of Welcome Glen, Fish Hoek, said Day Zero had arrived for her much earlier than May 2018. She was without water for eight days towards the end of November last year and despite logging numerous service requests, following up with phone calls and emails, she got no response.
“My meter was fitted with a water management device (WMD). I don’t know why as I use less than 6kl a month and my bills are paid by direct debit so always on time, in full.
“The device is supposed to give me 87 litres a day but since the municipality installed it I have had nothing at all, so I surmise it must be faulty, malfunctioning or leaking. I have no way of knowing and only the City of Cape Town can sort it out. However, it appears they won’t and have not been to check the WMD,” Ms Gillson said.
And the unintended consequences? “My daughter is 18 months old. It is very difficult looking after her, with no water. We can’t shower, cook, wash clothes or flush the toilet. We have to go elsewhere to bathe and do our dishes. The logistics are a nightmare. Try carrying a toddler, a bucket full of dishes and all of our washing things.
“I am on my own and have a full-time job. The situation is not sustainable and I don’t know how I will manage,” Ms Gillson said.
Mayoral committee member for informal settlements, water and waste services; and energy, Xanthea Limberg, said that as water meters age, the possibility of malfunction increases, and must be replaced periodically. The WMD was installed as part of that meter replacement programme.
Perhaps someone should have informed Ms Gillson.
“The City is receiving a high volume of queries which is affecting response times,” Ms Limberg said.
However, that doesn’t explain why her calls for help fell in to that well-known bureaucratic maw.
“The City understands the frustration of residents if water supply is interrupted, however, we must replace meters periodically to ensure that residents continue to be billed fairly and accurately. Meters are tested before installation, however, the possibility does exist that a portion could experience faults,” Ms Limberg said.
A few days after I contacted the municipality the water was restored to Ms Gillson’s house.
The good news is that she doesn’t have to pay for the WMD, which, by the way, was faulty.
“Customers are only charged for the cost of installing a WMD if it is being installed to restrict high consumption under Level 5 water restrictions, now Level 6B, or if they want to have one fitted outside of the meter replacement programme.
“So the City will take responsibility for the costs of the installation in this instance but the cost of the WMD is between R4 560 and R4 732,” said Ms Limberg, who added that if Ms Gillson suspected there was a leak on her property she should have it checked without delay.
“Monitoring for leaks on private property is the responsibility of the owner. Residents can check for leaks by switching off all water in the house, waiting half an hour for the geyser to fill (if applicable), and taking a reading on their water meter.
“They should then wait an hour or two and take another reading to see if the meter has registered any additional consumption. If so, it is likely there is a leak on the internal plumbing,” she said.
In all the reports I have read about the drought, no one has said how the City of Cape Town arrived at the figure of 87 litres each a day. I’ve always suspected that it was a thumb-suck.
So I asked Ms Limberg how they arrived at this magic number.
“Our calculations show that each resident must reduce consumption to this level to meet the water savings targets mandated by the national Department of Water and Sanitation during this time of severe drought. We are doing everything possible to bring online additional water and push back Day Zero, but the efforts of residents to save water remains integral to ensuring we do not have to turn off the taps at any stage,” Ms Limberg said.
Well, I ask again, how did the City of Cape Town arrive at this number?
I don’t think they know. Talk about running around like headless chickens. That’s what the City of Cape Town is doing. They are not looking at the big picture.
Now they’re using the leader of the Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane, as the poster boy for the water-saving campaign.
Vital product recall
Vital Health Foods has issued a recall of its mini corn cakes and mini rice cakes as a precautionary measure following an investigation into two consumer complaints about metal fragments found within the products.
The fragments appear to have been caused by an equipment malfunction during the manufacturing process.
The fragments may not be visible as they are baked inside the mini corn cakes and mini rice cakes.
“Between July 1 (2017) and January 31 (2018), we produced over 1.2 million units of the affected products. Only two incidents have been reported and our assessment indicates that the problem is isolated to less than 0.0002% of the stock produced.
“All consumers who purchased the products in any pack size or flavour with a best before (BB) date between
1 February 2018 and 31 August 2018 are asked to either discard the product, or return it to the retailer from where it was bought for a full cash refund. No other products are affected in any way,” says Justin Williamson, CEO of Vital Health Foods.
Contact the customer care line on 0800 223311 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.