Drought ‘tax’ looms

Residents were greeted this year with Level 6 water restrictions but there may be more bad news to come if the City of Cape Town’s proposed “drought tax” is implemented.

Ratepayers have until this Friday January 12 to comment on the proposal.

Households exceeding the 10500 litres a month limit could be fitted with water management devices. According to the City’s water dashboard, only 34% of Capetonians are using the stipulated 87 litres (or less) a person a day.

The City says that while many are saving water in Cape Town, about 200000 households are using more than 10500 litres a month.

Day Zero – the day the City will turn off most taps – has been brought forward from May to April 29.

Several of the City’s more affluent suburbs have already experienced “water outages”.

These include Zonnebloem, Glencairn, Sea Point and Bellville.

If approved by Treasury, the drought levy could be implemented from as early as February.

The City says that water restrictions have meant they are generating less revenue and that they need more money to pay for alternative water schemes.

The drought levy will be based on your property value and will be calculated at between 10% and 11% of the rates portion of your municipal account.

The charge will affect owners of residential properties valued at more than R400 000, and business properties valued at more than R50 000.

The City said the levy would help to pay for essential, yet expensive, projects to make new water available, such as increasing the output from the Atlantis aquifer, accessing water from the Oranjezicht Main Springs and constructing desalination plants.

The levy is expected to raise R1 billion a year for the next three years to June 2021.

Day Zero will come when dam levels reach 13.5%. Levels are currently at 32% with usable water at 22%. At this stage, residents will have to collect water daily from about 200 collection sites across the city.

The City’s mayoral committee member for finance, Johan van der Merwe, said comments and recommendations for the proposed levy were not restricted in any way and could be made by anyone – ratepayer, property owner or visitor.

He said the comment period was determined to ensure the urgent operating requirements of the City’s water supply network were not jeopardised by a revenue deficit.

The comments must be considered as part of the adjustments budget at the council meeting on Wednesday January 31. Comments from the public must be processed and included in the report to serve before this meeting and councillors must be allowed an opportunity to read and consider these comments before deliberation at the meeting. You can email your concerns about the drought levy to drought.charge@capetown.gov.za before Friday January 12.