The Water Games 2018: Capetonians stockpile bottled water ahead of day zero


Explainer: What you need to know about Cape Town’s looming water levy

Getting charged more for using less… mmmm.

The Water Games 2018: Capetonians stockpile bottled water ahead of day zero


While Cape Town continues to battle the drought, with water consumption spiking and the warm season now in full swing, one proposed solution is a so called “drought charge“. It is all but a certainty that this will be a thing soon, so let’s take a look at what you need to know.

Also read: All that poop in Cape Town’s oceans could be an issue for desalination

How long will the levy go on for?

About three years, from February 2018. The aim is to raise R1 billion annually.

Has it been given the go ahead?

No, it still needs to be authorised by the National Treasury. Although, it is highly unlikely that it will not be implemented.

What will the money be used for?

To “soften the diversification process” from surface water resources to multiple water resources.

How much will I pay for this drought levy?

It’s based on property values and will begin from R400 000 for residential properties and commercial properties valued from R50 000.

An example given is that a home valued at R600 000 would pay a monthly drought charge of R35, while a home valued at R50m would pay R2 800.  A residential property with a valuation of R800 000 could pay a drought charge of R45 and for a property with a valuation of R1m, the proposed drought charge would be R60. You get the picture. It’s not that astronomical, however, considering just how whack the Cape Town property market is – it’s pretty hectic.

In terms of commercial properties, one valued at R500 000 would pay R60 a month, while one valued at R500m would have to pay R56 000 monthly.

Okay, but why the levy?

Well, as you know by now, proposed long-term solutions are expensive. But there’s another awkward twist to this tale. Because there has been such an extreme reduction in the use of water, municipalities aren’t making as much money as before from charging for water. It’s a total Catch 22.