AMATHOLE District Municipality residents are in for a shock as the cost of metered water is to be more than doubled.
At present the municipality charges variable rates for metered water consumers depending on use and zoning.
Unmetered domestic consumers pay a fixed monthly rate of R25.26 irrespective of usage. This will increase to R26.75, which will remain a flat rate.
Metered commercial and industrial consumers will now pay a standard rate of R20.93 a kilolitre irrespective of consumption.
Public institutions and mixed use properties will also pay a standard rate of R19.93 per kilolitre.
ADM spokesman Samkelo Ngwenya said the rates applied for consumption of more than six kilolitres, which is the household average in the district.
The biggest increases, however, have been reserved for domestic metered consumers, who will find themselves paying increases of up to 184%. The increases (per kl) are:
For up to 6kl – from R4.21 to R11.96;
For 7kl to 15kl – from R7.22 to R15.94
For 16kl to 25kl – from R8.42 to R19.93;
For 26kl to 40kl – from R9.62 to R23.92;
For 41kl to 500kl – from R10.58 to R25.91; and
For more than 500kl – from R11.64 to R27.90.
The opposition Democratic Alliance has blasted the ADM for the increases, calling on users to resist them.
DA MPL Dacre Haddon said a private water consumer would now have to pay R287.75 for 25kl of water – an increase of 137%, or an increase of R3 453 a year.
“I’m appealing to all consumers in these municipalities in [ADM] to resist these high tariffs and to petition the legislature portfolio committee on local government to attend to this problem.”
Some of the towns affected include Stutterheim, Bedford, Butterworth, Alice, Dutywa and Adelaide.
Ngwenya said when ADM took over the provision of water and sanitation services from its municipalities, each municipality had a different tariff structure and the new structure would assist the municipality in cost recovery.
“In 2009/2010 a standard tariff structure was adopted across all the seven local municipalities going forward.
“Ever since ADM took over the provision of water and sanitation services the principle approach behind the calculation of tariffs levied was the affordability principle as the tariffs were not cost reflective.”
He said the municipality had been subsidising the provision of water and because ADM did not receive any funding from the department of water affairs and national treasury “[ADM] reserves have shrunk through the years”.
ADM took a decision that to be able to provide clean and healthy sustainable water and sanitation services, it needed to strike a balance between affordability and cost recovery.
According to the municipality, the average metered water consumer used about six kilolitres of water per month.
Ngwenya said commercial consumers would not be as much affected by the increases.
“The commercial businesses will not be affected negatively as they use a lot of water. The proposed tariff structure is favourable for them as they will be charged on a flat tariff, unlike the current step tariffs where they get charged more for using excessive water.”
Haddon has now written to local government MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane asking for his intervention.
“The province cannot continue to tax consumers out of existence due to bad municipal accounting practices and inability to implement unpopular political decisions to maintain adequate water supply to the district,” he said.
“The effects of these water tariffs will see further job losses as businesses look to absorb these increases into their operating budgets,” said Haddon.
Last week ADM mayor Nomasikizi Konza revealed massive water infrastructure development plans in the pipeline for all the local municipalities across the district. An amount of more than R300-million has been allocated.
Haddon said the municipality needed to improve its service fee collection and to consider introducing a one tariff policy “that is fair to all”. — abongilem@dispatch.