10% water hike coming

City pulls out all the stops

24 May 2019 | Disasters

The City of Windhoek has proposed a 10% water and 5% sewer tariff hike to come into effect in July.

The City's recently announced category D severe water scarcity demand-management plan and 15% water saving targets will come into effect at the same time.

The proposed tariff hike, which still needs to be approved and gazetted, includes new block tariff structures that would heavily penalise households who don't comply with water saving restrictions and guidelines. Under the category D water management plan, the City aims to consume no more than 465 000 cubic metres per week, and residents play a crucial role to achieve that goal. If the proposed increases are approved, households using more than 1 000 litres per day (or more than 30 000 litres monthly) will be charged N$145.70 per thousand litres consumed. The proposed tariff's for the category D water demand management strategy was introduced by Dieter Tolke, the City of Windhoek's water demand technician on Tuesday night at a talk on the water situation in Namibia at the Scientific Society of Namibia.

Tolke explained the 10% increase is based on the same cost increase NamWater has applied to the City. He added that the 5% “sewer tariff” is based on hidden costs related to ensuring water efficiency and cost recovery on equipment. Tolke said in line with a host of water restrictions coming into effect in July including the mandatory 15% water savings, the proposed 10% price hike represents an increase from N$21.40 to N$23.50 for household water consumption between zero to 6 000 litres per month.

For households consuming between 6 000 and 25 000 litres per month, the tariff would increase from N$33.20 per 1 000 litres to N$36.43 per 1 000 litres.

The current category C block tariffs charge households using between 6 000 to 25 000 litres per month, N$33.20 per 1 000 litres.

Households using between 25 000 and 30 000 per month will be charged double, forking out N$72.85 per 1 000 litres of water consumed.

The current category C block tariffs charge households using between 25 000 to 40 000 litres per month N$61 per 1 000 litres.

Households consuming more than 1 001 litres per day, or more than 30 000 litres per month, will be charged N$145.70 per 1 000 litres (one cubic metre or one kilolitre equates to 1 000 litres).

Manage demand

Tolke told the audience at Tuesday night's talk the goal should not be to use no more than 25 kilolitres per month, but to keep consumption as low as possible.

He urged residents to ensure they check their water consumption on a weekly basis, to ensure not only that they achieve the 15% water savings target, but to also be able to quickly spot water leakages.

As of 1 July, the City of Windhoek will no longer provide rebates for water leaks, he underlined, as part of the category D restrictions.

He said the City recommends each person in a household use no more than 90 litres per person per day, which would mean a household of four persons would consume around 10 800 litres per month, and a household of six persons would consume no more than 16 200 litres per month.

Another demand management strategy the municipality is aiming to implement is to again introduce a water-marshal programme.

Tolke explained this programme will rely on volunteer water marshals from private and public companies and institutions.

Marshals will be tasked with taking twice-daily water consumption readings, inspect for leaks and isolate those leaks. The water marshal system will be backed by three ministries, and will empower marshals to shut off water supply under certain conditions.

Water supply can only be reinstated with the signatures from the three ministers involved, Tolke said.

The programme is still being developed but will be introduced in due time.

Among the challenges faced by the City of Windhoek currently are the around 300 reported pipe bursts per month, mainly due to aging and poorly constructed pipelines, Tolke said. The City has made more than N$10 million available to replace problematic sections but he says the team managing these issues faces an uphill battle and severe challenges.

He added that the municipality is required to deal with around 1 500 sewer blockages each month, mainly due to inappropriate behaviour from residents clogging the systems with items such as eating utensils, fat deposits, waste and other items.

He said the aging infrastructure and poorly constructed infrastructure as well as capacity constraints remain major challenges.