Check for water leaks, says water-wary Cape Town

The City of Cape Town has urged residents to check their water bills and meters regularly after a resident who was named and shamed for excessive water consumption discovered a massive underground leak on his property.

“It has made people sit up and take note,” said mayoral spokesperson Zara Nicholson.

On Monday, the city released the names of the streets where 100 properties the city identified as having recorded the highest water usage are located.

Nicholson said the tactic is having the desired effect because the owner of the property on Haywood Road, Crawford, which topped the list at 702 000 litres of water used in January, has since contacted the city to report the leak.

In addition to the massive water bill, he will also have to foot the bill for the repairs as the leak is on private property within a boundary wall. The city is only responsible for piping beyond boundary walls.

The city’s responsibility is the approximately 11 000 km of water pipe lines, 650 000 water connections, and 9 500 km of sewer lines not on private property.

Residents’ responsibility

According to Nicholson many people do not even know there is a problem because they don’t read their water bills or even check that they are being billed correctly.

The municipality has also sent letters to 20 000 other people querying their high water consumption and suggesting that they should check for leaks.

“Switch off the water and look on the water meter to see if it is still turning,” she said.

If it is still turning, an underground leak is likely.

“It is their responsibility to monitor the bills and identify the leaks and have [them] repaired.

“The numbers are there and are accurate,” said Nicholson.

Residents from low-income households are allowed to apply for free plumbing services through their local municipal services centre, in line with policies that protect the indigent if they cannot afford to fix leaks themselves.

120 days of water left

The “top 100” list initially contained the details of people who had already declared a dispute with the city, so their addresses were left off Monday’s list.

“The people that are on the list are people who clearly haven’t monitored their account,” she said.

“There are people who feel they can pay the fine. There are people who only found out by seeing their street in the newspaper.”

In Monday’s statement, Mayor Patricia De Lille warned that the city only had 121 days of water left.

Consumption was at 837 million litres of collective use per day compared to the target of 700 million litres per day.

“We have 121 days left of usable water in our dams,” said De Lille at a briefing to drive home the crisis facing the city.

De Lille plans to write to environment MEC Anton Bredell to have the situation declared a disaster.

On Monday dam levels were at 33%, down from 1.5% a week ago. The last 10% of a dam’s water is not usable.

Source: engineeringnews

No use throwing stones over visa rules – deputy minister

Cape Town – Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Fatima Chohan declared on Monday that she is willing to accompany representatives of the SA tourism industry to China in order to see how dropping visitor numbers from that country can be curbed.

She took part in a visa legislation workshop hosted by Wesgro (the destination marketing, investment and trade promotion agency for the Western Cape).

According to Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro, it is a great idea of the deputy minister to go and try to establish first-hand what the causes for the drop in number of Chinese tourists could be and how to try and remedy the situation.

Harris acknowledged that the workshop had left many attendees still dissatisfied with South Africa’s new visa regulations and the impact on the local tourism industry. At the same time he said the workshop showed how there can be constructive engagements between certain sectors, like the film industry, and the Department of Home Affairs.

He thanked Chohan for attending the workshop even though the expectation was from the beginning that she would encounter some “hostile” reaction.

Chohan in turn said the department is prepared to attend more workshops in future and is looking into establishing a one-stop visa centre in Gauteng.

Harris said Wesgro will look also into the creation of a one-stop visa services centre in Cape Town, similar to one being rolled out by the department in Gauteng.

“It is getting us nowhere to keep on throwing stones at each other. Let us rather try to make it work. Just as my trip to India has helped to sort out visa problems there, I am prepared to help with the challenges in China as well,” said Chohan.

“We need to say it is now water under the bridge and let us move forward.”

Chris Whelan, CEO of the business think tank Accelerate Cape Town, said the tourism industry must be supported in order to create wealth for SA.

“Let’s put the visa and security issue to bed. No one disputes the importance. The end is justified, but the means is the important issue we have to address,” he said.

David Frost, CEO of the South African Tourism Services Association (Satsa) told Harris and Chohan that the industry basically wants clarity on the visa issue “so that we can go out there and do what we do best – get more tourists to come to South Africa”.

Favourable exchange rate

He said the SA tourism industry provides jobs for about 1.5 million people. He wanted to know what has happened to the ministerial task team which is supposed to look into the visa matter, as it has not even gathered yet.

Michael Tollman, chair of Cullinan Holdings, a large SA tourism and leisure group, told Chohan that last year this time the company had a large number of tour groups visiting SA from China and Singapore. So far this year, it has had none.

Tollman claims it is mainly due to the Ebola scare and the Chinese government advising its citizens not to travel to Africa because of the disease.

“This year our tourism numbers should have been up about 25% because of SA’s favourable exchange rate for overseas visitors, but this is not happening,” warned Tollman.

He would like to see a task team to establish the correct information to be sent out to people applying for SA visas.

“At the moment we are all a bit lost and we need the right communication to sell SA to the world,” said Tollman.

To this Chohan replied that she has made good strides in India in clearing up misconceptions about SA and Ebola and that she thinks the same could be done in China.

About the new visa regulations Chohan said “let us implement them and then mitigate afterwards. It is about how we communicate when we put issues on the table. I think we can have a 50% growth in tourism numbers if we all work together”.

Source: fin24

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