The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has announced that residents should brace themselves for high water bills for August with reports that some households have already started receiving shocking bills that range from $19 000 to as high as $100 000.
The local authority noted that the high bills were due to the fact that since June, council has been getting actual metre readings from residencies which were indicating high levels of water abuse from the consumers.
According to council, high bills will mainly affect suburbs fed by the Tuli Reservoir. Suburbs that are serviced by Tuli Reservoir include Esigodini, Imbizo Barracks, Fortunes Gate, Selbourne Park, Matsheumhlophe, Parklands, Khumalo, Queens Park, Suburbs, Mahatshula, Woodville, Kingsdale, Lochview, Sunninghill, Marlands, Glencoe, Riverside, Waterford, Manningdale, Willsgrove, Buena Vista and Douglasdale.
Town Clerk Mr Christopher Dube, in a statement said that residents were using as much as 760 litres of water per person per day which was well over the daily average of water allocated per household which is pegged at 650 litres per household per day, according to the water rationing schedule.
“The per capita consumptions are very high at an average figure of 519 litres per person a day and as high as 760 litres per person a day, which is way above the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard of 150 litres per person a day. This is indicating excessive usage of water. Bulawayo City Council’s water rationing limit is currently at 650 litres a day per household for medium to low-density suburbs, which gives per capita allocation of 108 litres per person a day.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, billing has been based on estimates. The estimates were being calculated using the household allocations. However, as for June and July, 2021 — billing has been based on actual readings and therefore, consumers should expect exceptionally high-water bills,” said Mr Dube.
The local authority advised residents to consume water that was within their household allocations of 650 litres a day per household. Mr Dube said council will soon weed out water abusers in a bid to reduce consumption.
“Investigations are underway to identify water abusers, which include meter bypasses, hose pipe usage. Residents are encouraged to report any suspected water abuse to the nearest council offices or use the Customer Contact Centre platform. Council will be deploying contract plumbers to deal with leaks and non-functional water meters as part of the Non-Revenue Water (NRW) reduction exercise,” reads the statement.
The local authority reiterated that it was maintaining a 48-hour water shedding schedule in the areas supplied by Tuli Resevior, as levels continue to be insignificant to allow for a continuous supply of water.
“We wish to inform our valued clients that the 48-hour water shedding is still in effect. Occasionally, however, this scheduled programme has been disrupted by unexpected power outages and on days when the reservoir is full, and City Council decides to supply water ahead of schedule to avoid the reservoir from spilling water.
“In light of these circumstances, Bulawayo City Council wishes to apologise to its valued consumers for any inconvenience caused. Consumers are advised that if all consumers stick to the rationed limits, water shedding will gradually ease,” said Mr Dube.
The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) has since written to the local authority questioning the high bills and demanding that they clarify their billing model.
“This letter serves to raise concern over the recent exorbitant water bills that residents have received from the Bulawayo City Council. Residents have in the past weeks received absurd water bills ranging from $19 000 to $100 000. BPRA thus requests BCC to look into the matter and clarify the source of the figures and tariffs determination,” reads the letter which was signed by the BPRA co-ordinator, Mr Emmanuel Ndlovu.
The local authority has since the abolishing of the water shedding schedule for the rest of the city struggled to provide a continuous supply of water to these areas, which has seen residents in those suburbs remaining under water shedding.
This has resulted in BCC carrying out a leak and burst assessments in the Tuli reservoir zone in the past eight weeks as part of the Non-Revenue Water (NRW) exercise where specialized equipment was used to observe and pick-up changes in water pressure and volume flow patterns.