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Thursday Dec 28, 2017

Opposition to Cape Town drought levy growing

Opposition to Cape Town's proposed drought levy is growing, with a group of residents creating a portal for the public to send their individual objections directly to the City.

The group, called Stop COCT, which is opposed to the levy, has a live comment section on the portal which already has almost 3 000 comments.

Stop COCT says the City has chosen to have the levy public participation process over the busy holiday season when many people will be away and not give the water charge much thought.

The public participation process is being run from December 5 to January 12.

The proposed levy will to come into effect on February 1 subject to the approval from the minister of finance and council approval at the end of January.

The drought charge is based on a property's value and is estimated at about 10% of the current municipal rates portion of a municipal account. The charge will affect owners of residential properties valued at more than R400 000 and business properties valued at more than R50 000.

The group's founder, Sandra Dickson of Brackenfell, said the City has not shown adequate evidence of attempts to seek alternative revenue from sources other than the residents of Cape Town and no affordability study has been conducted among residents.

"The City is very shortsighted. (It has) had over 10 years to address this problem; the costs could have been paid off over that time.

"Because we are now in a panic, the City wants to put together a short-term solution. We live in a water-scarce region," she said.

Comments on the site include: "We are already paying extremely high prices for petrol, for electricity and for food... we cannot possibly stretch our budgets even higher to pay for water we don't use. I understand the concept and also do my best to save water, but I am already struggling to live, along with many others."

The City said: "The charge will help recoup a certain percentage of the income that we have not been able to receive due to the drought and the necessary water restrictions."

The funds would help to pay for the essential, yet expensive, projects to make new water available, such as increasing output from the Atlantis aquifer, accessing water from the Oranjezicht Main Springs and constructing desalination plants.

All current rebates - for example, for pensioners, the disabled or the indigent - would remain intact.

The City says it will need to raise R1 billion a year for three years to support vital water projects.

Regarding the start of the public participation process when people were going on holiday, the City responded: "This is a crisis and an emergency.

"The City is working hard and looking at all options to ensure additional supply. We need residents on board in this partnership to save water and to make additional supply available. This is the only way we can avoid Day Zero..."

The Stop COCT portal can be found at:

Cape Times

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