Heavy penalties for water leaks

Windhoek residents are warned of stiff penalties and punitive tariffs for allowing water leaks to continue.

02 December 2016 | Disasters

JANA-MARI SMITH



As the water supply crisis in central Namibia worsens, the City of Windhoek has urged residents to be vigilant and to detect and fix all water leaks promptly or face steep penalties.

Despite a 40% water savings target set for all residents in the city, consumption rates remain high, with the latest graph released by the City showing a mere 25% saving over the past few weeks.

Besides careless residents who ignore water restrictions, undetected and unfixed water leaks are the main culprits.

“Water leaks are costly and can range between N$1 000 and N$100 000 per month for a single household. Thus it is essential to read your water meter at least every week,” a notice from the City of Windhoek’s water demand management department stated.

The City warned that anyone who is complying with water saving requirements but whose monthly account reflects a high consumption should investigate a possible leak.

The notice warned that each consumer, including tenants, is liable for water leaks as it is their duty to manage the household’s water consumption. According to City regulations, property owners can only become liable for water losses from the time and date the owner was notified.

Undetected water leaks could lead to restriction of water supply, and also push up the cost for each unit of water used.

Earlier this year, the City implemented a domestic water step tariff system, which rewards low water consumers by charging less per unit of water consumed, whereas high water consumers pay more per unit.

This payment framework is based on the City’s recommendation that households restrict water consumption to 90 litres of water per person per day.

Based on these calculations, the water tariffs have been divided into four payment categories.

The lowest tariff applies to households that consume less than 200 litres of water per day, which means a maximum of 6 000 litres per month. These households are charged N$17.77 per unit used.

The second category charges N$26.47 to consumers who use an average of 210 litres to 1 000 litres per day, amounting to between 6 100 and 30 000 litres of water consumed per month.

Consumers who use between 30 100 and 40 000 litres per month are charged N$48.82 per unit.

A stiff penalty of N$112.50 per unit is applicable to domestic consumers who use more than 40 000 litres of water per month.

A daily water consumption guide issued by the City recommends that two-person households restrict daily water consumption to 180 litres per day, and no more than 5 400 litres per month.

A four-person household is requested to use on average 360 litres per day, and no more than 10 800 litres per month.

A six-person household should aim to use less than 540 litres per day, and an eight-person household should restrict consumption to 720 litres per day.

“You need to know your daily, weekly and monthly water consumption. The water consumption should be evaluated regularly against the target consumption. The municipal account is only a billing tool, it is not a water management tool,” the City’s water demand section advised.

In response to the water crisis, the City earlier this year informed residents that the water leak rebate programme was cancelled, in order to motivate residents to regularly read their water meters in order to detect leaks as early as possible.

In the past, residents were often refunded for water consumption costs incurred due to water leaks.

Now, however, water leaks that remain undetected could lead to unexpected high tariffs for consumers.

“Thus if water is wasted, the consumer or occupant of the building will suffer the consequences of the cost and the water restriction, if the City of Windhoek has to restrict water supply due to the lack in water management,” the municipality warned.

In order to avoid long-term and costly leaks, the City advises residents and property managers to “conduct leak tests to ensure that no leaks exist. Isolate water leaks immediately.”

Apart from conducting regular water meter checks, the City advised that small water leaks should be measured by reading the water meter for a period of between three and six hours.

No further water consumption should take place when testing for leaks.

The City has also advised, in light of the upcoming holiday period, that it is advisable to close the main water supply during times when the property is unattended for longer than 24 hours.

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