Drought conditions worsen; harsher restrictions implemented

Drought conditions worsen; harsher restrictions implemented

The country-wide drought, which worsened during 2016, saw Cape Town transition from Level 2 water restrictions to Level 3 as of November 2016. However, due to escalating decreases in the city’s main dams, and the repeated failure to reach the intended water savings target of 800 million litres of collective water use per day, a decision was taken by the city’s council to implement Level 3B water restrictions come 1 February.

Differences in Water Restrictions

The difference between Level 3 and Level 3B water restrictions is quite severe. Level 3 restrictions does not limit residents and businesses from watering their gardens during certain times, whilst Level 3B limits this to Tuesdays and Saturdays before 09:00 or after 18:00, with a bucket or watering can. Level 3B is also more stringent in terms of rainfall and the washing of boats and vehicles. It states that gardens are only allowed to be watered 48-hours after rainfall as opposed to the current 24 hours, and boats and vehicles are not allowed to be washed at all,  even with a bucket/watering can.

The Responsibilities of Landlords and Tenants

Along with water restrictions, there is some legitimate misunderstandings between landlords and tenants that have arisen. Most notably, tenants are unsure as to whether they are required to keep gardens alive and pools maintained during these dry times, and if so, who does the responsibility fall on (tenant or landlord) to ensure upkeep?

Firstly, although water restrictions continue, swimming pools and gardens most definitely need to be maintained. However, the question as to who is responsible lies solely on what is stipulated on the lease agreement signed by the tenant. The agreement could either state that a tenant or landlord is responsible for upkeep, and if it falls on the landlord, then arrangements should be made with the relevant garden or pool service to follow whatever is required. If it becomes impossible for the landlord to provide this service because it is beyond their control – maybe he/she is residing in another country – the terms of the lease agreement will need to be renegotiated. However, due to the current Level 3B restrictions, only buckets or cans of water can be used at the specified time of Tuesdays and Saturdays before 09:00 or after 18:00. In addition, spring water can also be collected free of charge at Springs Way or the Brewery, and in the case of elderly or handicapped tenants, dispensation from the City Council can be obtained.

Continued Falling Dam Levels

The future of water restrictions in Cape Town, and the rest of the country, currently looks set to continue, especially once considering the falling dam levels that 2017 is experiencing. The major dams of the city, namely Wemmershoek, Steenbras Lower, Steenbras Upper, Voelvlei, Theewaterskloof and Berg River, have all shown incredible decreases within a time-period between 2013 and mid-January 2017.  The three dams that have declined the most during the last three years, include Wemmershoek – down by 46.8 percent, Theewaterskloof – down by 46.1 percent and Steenbras Lower – down by 33.7 percent. Overall, the average drop is approximately 38.9 percent.

Council advises that if anyone is aware of an individual ignoring water restrictions, to report it to [email protected]. The following format is required: address of the property, date and time of the possible offense and what was taking place.

Amid the current challenging conditions, Pam Sorel Properties advises that all residents of Cape Town adhere to the restrictions implemented, especially during the summer period. By working together, this will help ensure that even harsher restrictions are kept at bay.