Hell and high water bills: Cape tariffs are the world’s highest
Rise in water prices were about 100 times higher in 2018 than global average, new survey shows
Cape Town experienced the steepest hike in water tariffs out of 512 cities around the world this year, according to The Global Water Tariff Survey.
Water and sewerage tariffs rose by 390% in Cape Town according to The Global Value of Water survey that was conducted in 191 countries.
The city reeled under the worst drought in the past 100 years until winter rains brought relief.
Dam levels are currently at 74% compared with 37.9% this time last year, according to the latest information from the City of Cape Town.
The company, Global Water Intelligence, published the paper on www.infrastructurene.ws with Arup and The Global Water Leaders Group.
The tariff hike was intended to limit water consumption in households, by charging for those using more than the allocated 50 litres per person per day, as the dams were emptying to record lows.
The punitive tariff – combined with increased water-saving awareness and behaviour, and residents drilling their own boreholes – cut the city’s peak water usage by 54%, delaying “Day Zero” when taps could be shut off.
Following solid winter rains and rising dam levels, the city relaxed water restrictions from Level 6B to Level 5 (70 litres per person per day).
Further adjustments are likely to be announced next week, with Western Cape farmers waiting tensely to find out if they will receive increased allocations for irrigation needs.
Internationally the average price of water and wastewater rose by 3.8% – 100 times less than Cape Town’s increases, according the latest water tariff survey.
Price cuts in Northern Europe and stable prices in some Middle Eastern and African cities – six cities in North Africa and the Middle East, and 17 cities in sub-Saharan Africa were surveyed – contributed to the modest increase.
But Christopher Gasson, publisher of Global Water Intelligence, said the global average price of water needs to at least double if everyone is to get reliable access to potable water in the long term.
“These increases matter because they attract much-needed investment into the sector and they encourage better use of resources,” he told www.infrastructurene.ws.
“We are also seeing utilities becoming more active in offering social tariffs to reduce the impact on low-income households,” he said.
“For most utilities 80% of the costs are fixed, and in older cities with falling water demand, there are few alternatives.”