Cape Town has passed 9 new water regulations – here’s what you need to know

The City of Cape Town has officially approved a number of amendments to its water by-laws.

In a statement published on Wednesday (13 June), the city confirmed the changes and encouraged residents to familiarise themselves with what is required of them in terms of the legislation.

It added that the amendments do not replace the Level 6 water restrictions, which instead are implemented in addition to this by-law.

“I would like to assure residents that all amendments made to the by-law have been included to strengthen the resilience of our built environment to the effects of water scarcity and ultimately protect our ability to safeguard public and environmental health,” said councillor Xanthea Limberg.

“Compliance frameworks like by-laws are critical to a society’s ability to look after its residents and their interests. Such interventions form an important component of our broader efforts to live more sustainably.

“Given the current uncertainty around future rainfall patterns in the Western Cape, it is essential that the city’s residents are water-aware at all times, including once water restrictions are lifted, and that the city can act effectively to reduce and prevent waste.

“These amendments will assist the City to better protect our water resources so our City is more resilient when drought does strike,” she said.

You can find the most relevant changes detailed below:

  • Landlords must now keep record of consumption for each residential unit in a multi-tenant complex/block of flats, and inform the city if contraventions of water restrictions are taking place.
  • New developments must install water conservation and demand management systems, or alternative water systems, and these must be approved by the city before development proceeds.
  • The city’s oversight of plumbers has been strengthened by allowing the city to not only remove plumbers from its register but institute legal action if they are found to have transgressed the water by-law.
  • A prepayment meter is now an option, in addition to the WMD, as a council water meter. While this technology is not yet at a stage of development for uptake by the city, having this item of legislation in the by-law allows the city to make use of it in the event that it becomes appropriate and necessary.
  • Potable (drinking) water storage tanks must be impervious to sunlight to prevent the growth of bacteria.
  • No cross-connection must exist on private property between potable and non-potable water systems.
  • No irrigation of gardens is allowed between 09h00 and 18h00, including from boreholes and well-points. Previously no irrigation was allowed 10h00 and 16h00, and did not include borehole water. Watering gardens in the heat of the day can result in significant water lost to evaporation.
  • Maximum capacity for toilet cisterns and shower head flow has been lowered. Toilets are now only allowed a maximum 6 litre cistern volume (down from 9 litres), and water from shower heads must flow out at no more than 7 litres per minute (down from 9.5 litres/minute)
  • All pools must be fitted with a cover to avoid evaporation when not in use.

“Residents should please note that property owners are not required to comply with this by-law by altering a water installation or part thereof which was installed in conformity with a previous version of the by-law.” it said.

“Only when it comes time to replace toilets and shower heads due to age or malfunction must new parts that conform with the revised standards be fitted.

“All automatic flushing cisterns fitted to urinals must however be replaced immediately with either manually operated systems or properly maintained non-manual apparatus which causes the flushing device to operate only after each use. This is especially common in public facilities , e.g restaurants and shopping centres.”


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