Water leaks could cause account to spike

Peter Flower, director, water and sanitation department, City of Cape Town

The City of Cape Town issues hundreds of thousands of accounts per month. Although inaccurate billing is always regrettable, only a small percentage of accounts contain billing errors.

We’ve noticed reports of customers who have been receiving significantly higher accounts than what they may be used to.

As a matter of policy, we investigate any account query that is sent to us on its merits.

However, the reason for many significantly higher bills is likely due to underground leaks. These leaks are the responsibility of private property owners to fix.

However, customers may apply to the City for a rebate if there are mitigating circumstances.

We have also enhanced our programme of fixing leaks for our low-income residents.

In light of the tariff increases, it is reasonable to assume that under the low tariffs of say a year ago, if one had a substantial underground leak, the cost for that water loss would be substantially lower than what one would pay for the same water loss under the Level 6 tariffs of this year.

We continue to advise consumers to check for leaks by ensuring all outlets are shut off and to then read the meter.

After waiting for a period of 15 to 30 minutes another reading should be taken.

If there is a change in the meter reading, it is very likely that there is a leak on the property. Some leaks are easy to detect, while others could be hidden underground and difficult to detect and would require an expert leak detection professional or plumber.

Customers should please check for the possibility of underground leaks before calling our call centre about their bills.

There are a smaller number of high bills which could be the result of a water meter leak. The City will investigate these cases and take the necessary remedial action if required.

If a customer’s meter is inaccessible to the meter readers, the customer can submit his or her meter reading by using the e-services facility on the City’s website or by phoning the meter reading to 0860 103 089.

Since March 2018, estimations are based over three months to avoid a once-off spike in an account.

For water-specific enquiries, please send an email to water@capetown.gov.za or send a WhatsApp to 063 407 3699 or an SMS to 31373.