As of Friday afternoon, 4 February 2022, water consumption notices have been circulated on various platforms appealing to residents to please immediately reduce water consumption.

The water network has been under immense pressure for the last seven days and as of Thursday 10 February 2022, reservoirs in Swellendam (Bethelskop and Bakenskop) and Railton have still not reached satisfactory levels, that is over 70% of the reservoir’s capacity, despite water purification processes operating at maximum capacity.

The municipality simply cannot purify water at the rate at which it is being consumed and utilised. Residents are advised that the municipality does however have sufficient raw water in the supply dams and sufficient capacity at the water treatment works.

Should the municipality not implement rehabilitative measures, the situation would require drastic action in the form of a system shutdown, which would mean no water supply to the network for at least 48 to 72 hours. An action the municipality is trying to avoid as this too has consequences for the network and is far more costly as it will require manual delivery of water with far greater inconvenience.

Following consultation with the Executive Mayor, Francois du Rand, the decision to implement Level 3 Water Restrictions has been made and will be implemented as of midnight 11 February 2022 and until further notice. Please note that the Level 3 Water Restrictions will only apply to Swellendam main town and Railton at this stage.

THE SWELLENDAM BY-LAW RELATING TO WATER AND SANITATION SERVICES AND INDUSTRIAL EFFLUENT as promulgated on 5 June 2015 provides various mechanisms to allow the Municipality to manage its water resources.

In section 7, Payment for Water Services provided (3) The municipality may estimate the quantity of water services provided in respect of a period or periods within the interval between successive measurements and may render an account for the services so estimated.

In Section 10, Limitation or discontinuation of water services provided. (1) The municipality may limit or discontinue water services provided in terms of this by-law – (g) in an emergency and (2) The municipality will not be liable for any damages or claims that may arise from the limitation or discontinuation of water services provided in subsection (1).

In Section 12, Exemption (1) The municipality may, in writing exempt an owner, consumer any other person or category of owners, consumers or other persons from complying with this provision subject to any conditions that it may impose.

Additionally, Level 3 water tariff penalties will also be applicable as set out in Section 7 above; that is a 40% escalation of costs per kiloliter used and reflected on monthly municipal accounts. Exemptions for the tariff penalty will apply to the following groups;
– Residential consumption within the brackets of 0 – 6kl and 6 – 15kl,
– the Industrial sector,
– the Public sector (Schools, the Hospital and Clinics),
– Zoned and operating businesses

Currently residential consumption makes up 72% of the total municipal water consumption, and it is for this reason that the water restriction is targeted specifically at those consuming above 15kl per month.

Section 19, Power to serve and compliance with notices (1) The municipality may, by written notice order an owner, consumer or any other person who fails by act or omission to comply with the provisions of this by-law or of any condition imposed thereunder to remedy such breach within a period specified in the notice. Section 19 (2), If a person fails to comply with a written notice served on him or her the municipality may (d) impose a fine.

Section 19 (4), In the event of an emergency the municipal may without prior notice undertake the work required by subsection (3)(e) (i) and recover such costs from such person.

Section 22, Offences and Penalties (1) No person may – (h) ignore any temporary or permanent water restrictions without written exemption or relaxation of such restrictions by the municipality.

Section 31, General conditions of supply (5) If in the opinion of the municipality the consumption of water by a consumer adversely affects the supply of water to another consumer, the Municipality may apply such restrictions as it deems fit to the supply of water to the first mentioned consumer in order to ensure a reasonable supply of water to the other consumer and will inform that consumer of such restrictions.

Section 33, Quantity of Water Supplied to the consumer (4) Nothing in this by-law shall be construed as in imposing on the municipality an obligation to cause any measuring device installed by the municipality on any premises to be measured at the end of every month or any other fixed period, and the municipality may estimate the quantity of water supplied over any period during the interval between successive measurements of the measuring device and render an account to a consumer for the quantity of water so estimated.

Section 33 (8), Where in the opinion of the municipality it is not reasonably possible or cost effective to measure water supplied to each consumer within a determined zone, the municipality may in terms of its tariff policy determine a basic tariff or charge to be paid by each consumer within that zone irrespective of actual consumption.

Section 40, Water restrictions. This full section is applied. Most notably (1) the Municipality may by public notice, to prevent the wasteful use of water in terms of section 41 or in the event of a water shortage, drought or flood. Our condition is that current consumption is exceeding our current capacity to purify water fast enough to bring the reservoirs and networks above 70%.

The municipality sincerely requests Swellendam main town and Railton residents’ cooperation at this time as the situation is dire.

For all media enquiries please contact:
Bianca McKechnie
Senior Media and Communications Officer
+27 63 226 3993 /

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