The City of Cape Town’s Pro-Active Approach Towards Water

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

Cape Town property owners are now legally bound to conserve water. The City of Cape Town’s pro-active approach towards water shortages in the Western Cape has lead to the amendment of the City’s water by-law, that will reduce water wastage through sound plumbing systems. Motivated by the City of Cape Town losing approximately 79 000 million litres of potable water per year in the distribution system, a new by-law was promulgated on 18 February, requiring all properties sold to be issued with a Water Compliance Certificate by a registered plumber. The requirement for sellers of private property to ensure that plumbing adheres to the National Building Regulations, will now give buyers the assurance that they will not be subjected to high water bills as a result of leakages or inferior plumbing. And substantial reduction of valuable potable water losses across the city will also hugely benefit the city environment. To ensure compliance of water installations on transfer of properties, the city requires that a suitably qualified and accredited plumber in terms of the South African Qualifications Authority, adheres to a number of specified requirements on all properties. Plumbers must certify that hot water cylinders comply with SANS 10252 and 10254, that the water meter registers, that there are no water leaks on the property, that water pipes and terminal fittings are correctly fixed in position, and that no storm water is discharged into the sewerage system. Lastly, the plumber has to certify there is no cross connection between potable supply and any grey water or groundwater system which may be installed. Greater awareness among property professionals is required to communicate the new legislation to property owners. Sandy Walsh, head of the Institute of Estate Agents in the Western Cape said estate agents should advise property sellers of the plumbing inspection requirement, prior to properties going onto the market. The city has also ensured the public that this system will not delay the issuing of rates and tax clearance certificates by municipalities. The city has met with the Plumbing Industry Registration Board and the Western Cape Institute of Plumbing of South Africa (IOPSA), who indicated that they are very positive about the new clause in the by-law. Property owners will also benefit from discussions underway with IOPSA to reach agreement on the appropriate fee structure for this service, should a property be found to have no defects. Larry Berger, chairman of the IOPSA said the Western Cape has sufficient numbers of qualified plumbers to deal with the new demand as a result of the new by-law. He said: “The cost of an inspection should be in the region of R500, and the repair costs will be determined by the extent of the repairs that need to be done.” IOPSA said the system is regulated by strict controls, to ensure no corruption or abuse of the system, and transgressions will be dealt with appropriately. Property owners are advised to obtain more than one costing to avoid inflated quotations. Standard forms are available on the City’s website as well as from estate agents, for completion by certified plumbers after all plumbing faults have been rectified. The city says conveyancers, on behalf of sellers and owners, are required to submit completed and signed forms via e-mail.

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