'Drought tariff' mooted
Ahmed Areff, News24
Johannesburg - Higher water tariffs could be imposed during drought conditions, including penalties for those who use more than a specified amount of water.
This is according to the "Norms and standards in respect of tariffs for water service authorities and bulk service providers" gazetted by the Department of Water and Sanitation.
According to the document, drought tariffs mean "a higher than normal or a temporary drought surcharge that a water services authority may impose to achieve water conservation goals when facing drought conditions".
The public has 90 days to submit comments or input to Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokhonyane on the notice. The document was published in the government gazette on Friday.
The tariffs would not apply to those with free basic water or those in the lowest tariff block.
The document does not specify an amount and states that community consultation on drought tariffs may be "abbreviated" in times of emergency.
According to the document, a water service authority must use a tariff that will encourage consumers to reduce consumption to the sustainable drought level.
A water services authority also had to consider the reliability of supply during a drought by assessing the water resources available to the area prior to declaring it a drought area.
They also had to provide consumers with prior notification of the implementation of drought tariffs, or "the activation of water conservation measures" using at least two sources of media.
Also mooted are "seasonal tariffs", which meant "a higher than normal tariff or a temporary surcharge that a water services authority may impose during months in which a higher than average peak consumption is normally experienced in order to limit the peak consumption from its water services works".