What can the City of Cape Town do to further encourage residents to decrease their water consumption?


The City of Cape Town has implemented Level 4 water restrictions and is urging residents to keep their daily water usage at or below 100l per person. Besides increasing water tariffs, what further measures do you think the City can implement to encourage residents to decrease their water usage?


This is a good question Jess. I have a couple of thoughts from my side:

Building Code / Bylaws - in 2011 our building code made it compulsory for all new buildings to make use of solar-thermal or solar hot water generation (for energy efficiency purposes in part XA). I think something similar could apply to rainwater/greywater systems. Essentially requiring that all new buildings or refurbishments include water capture/re-use.

Leaks - I think that a huge amount of water is still being wasted through underground leaks. I am sure the City is currently focusing on this, but not sure to what extent. Another approach is to reduce the pressure in the underground lines to reduce leaks. The V&A Waterfront cut their water consumption by 25% by introducing a series of pressure reducing initiatives.

Benchmarking - It would be great to see benchmarking on utility bills. E.g. “you are performing X% better/worse than a typical residential property your sze”. It may be tricky to peg the benchmarks, but any awareness is a good thing.

Here’s to a wet winter!


Hi Francois

Thanks for your response! Building codes for water efficiency are probably not far off after this drought. Benchmarking is a great idea. People are probably more likely to think they are performing better than others - benchmarking could help keep water use in perspective. Perhaps benchmarks could be provided for similar sized homes in the same area so that people can see how their water usage compares to their neighbours/community.

This question came to mind after I had a discussion with a City official - I asked him why the City doesn’t just keep increasing water tariffs until people are forced to decrease their usage or pay a high price for water. He said that the problem with increasing tariffs is that the heavier water users (who subsidise low users) will then just install boreholes, and decrease their cross-subsidation. What I thought was a simple solution turned out to be a bit more complex!



Hi Jess and Francois

I agree, benchmarking would be a huge help! The average person has no idea how much water they should be using per month and displaying this on their utility bill is a great idea - maybe using a simple graphic.

What would be incredible is if each household had a metering system that monitors their consumption in real time and records it on a user-friendly app that users can log into whenever they want to check their performance. There could even be some kind of reward system for those who show improvement.

Another suggestion for the City is to encourage installation of grey water systems or rainwater harvesting.