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Cape Town has new water by-laws

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Council’s amended regulations accept a future of droughts

The City of Cape Town has just approved a range of amendments to the water by-laws which only a few people might be aware of.

Rowan Alexander, director of Alexander Swart Property, says the amendments recognise the possibility that in the next decade the city and surrounds will repeatedly be faced with serious water shortages.

“The amendments will clarify certain grey areas and make Cape Town capable of coping with a water-scarce future.”

The city has emphasised that the amendments do not replace the current Level 6 water restrictions.

Instead, they will be implemented in addition to the restrictions.

They are permanent and are by-laws, not suggestions or recommendations.

Failure to obey them could involve court action and stiff fines, says Alexander.

The most relevant changes are:

Landlords must keep a record of consumption by every individual unit in multi-tenant/sectional title complexes and apartment blocks. They must also inform the city of any contraventions to the rulings that occur.

“This is a very good move because, as we all know, it takes only one or two irresponsible occupants in a complex to wreck the entire scheme’s water-saving efforts.”

New developments must have water conservation and demand-management systems – or alternative water systems – and these must have the city’s approval before they are installed.

The city’s control of plumbers has been strengthened by enabling it to remove plumbers from its register – thereby threatening their livelihood – and to take legal action if plumbers break or ignore the water by-laws.

“This particular ruling is welcome because… now, in such homes any faults will have to be put right before the property can be sold,” Alexander says.

It will soon be possible to install pre-paid water meters not only in single homes but in every individual apartment in sectional title or multi-unit complexes.

The technology for such meters has not yet been fully accepted by the city but under the new by-laws such meters will be legal and will be recommended wherever they are appropriate or necessary.

Water storage tanks must now be impervious to sunlight so as to prevent bacterial growth.

Alexander says the vast majority of tanks already comply with this new by-law.

When restrictions are lifted, watering of gardens will be allowed only before 9am or after 6pm. Previously gardens could be watered before 10am and after 4pm.

In addition, says Alexander, these times will also apply to water from boreholes and wellpoints.

The permitted capacity of toilet cisterns has been reduced from 9 litres to 6 litres and showerheads from dispensing 9.5 litres to 7 litres a minute.

All automatic urinal flushing systems must be replaced with manually operated systems or systems which work automatically only when the urinal is being used.

Swimming pools must now be covered whenever they are not in use.

Where existing toilet, shower and urinal systems do not comply with the new by-laws they may remain in operation until they are replaced when damaged or when a property is being renovated.

But at that point new equipment compliant with the rulings must be installed.

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