Large Hikes in SA’s drinking water tariffs on cards

Water billsSouth Africa’s water boards are proposing increases of between 6.2% and 43% to the cost of the potable bulk water they supply to the country’s municipalities.

Such tariff increases, if accepted, are likely to push up the cost of drinking water sold to end-users by municipalities. The proposals, details of which are contained in a document tabled at a meeting of Parliament’s Water Affairs portfolio committee yesterday, appear to fly in the face of an announcement made by Water Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica last month.

“I want to allay the fears of South Africans that there is in the near furture a possibility of a (tariff) hike. It’s not in the pipeline, ” she told a media briefing at Parliament on April 13. Questioned about this later yesterday, the department’s media liaison director, Linda Page, said there was no contradiction. “You will remember the minister was responding to a question on whether there are  likely to be tariff  increases linked to funding for infrastructure and thus potential  increases in the price of raw water. The increases that the water boards are proposing…. are the normal annual increases linked  to the CPIX because they operate on a cost recovery basis,” she said. Drinking Water

The document, tabled at the committee meeting by the chief director for institutional oversight, Thoko Sigwaza, includes a table of bulk-water tariff increases proposed by the 13 water boards. these range from 6.2% for Umgeni Water (from R3.24 to R3.47 a kilolitre), to 43% for Namakwa (from R6.37 to R9.11).

“Bulk water tariffs are not proposes by the department, but are determined by the water boards,” the document states. Further, it notes that tariff increases for the current (2010/11) finacial year “must be tabled on or before March 15 (this year)) if the increases are to take effect from July 1, 2010.” It says a consultation process had been held with municipalities and also that  “it is difficult to assess impact of tariff increases on end-users”. Further, water boards needed to raise funds to finance capital expenditure on infrastructure over the next five years “estimated to exceed R10-billion”.

Last month, Sonjica said any water tariff increase would have to go through an “extensive” consultaion process before it could be enforced. – Ricard Davies, The Herald

Water drop

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