Boreholes owners up in arms with Council over levies

Borehole owners in Bulawayo are up in arms with the Upper Gwayi Sub Catchment Council which is enforcing the payment of levies for the use of underground water.  

Gwayi Sub Catchment Council has been conducting a door-to-door blitz in low-density suburbs checking for boreholes and those found with boreholes were compelled to register with the council.

One of the residents who received a notice from the council was ordered to pay US$245.60 while another one was levied US$225.90 including a non-compliance fee of US$150 to be paid within seven days of the notice.

“On a visit to your property, you were found to be abstracting water from a borehole/ river/ well for any purpose other than a primary purpose without a permit. In terms of section 34 (1) of the Water Act Chapter 20:24, as read with section 12 (1), 22 (a), (b), 23 (1) (a) (b) and 23 (2) of SI 206 of 2001. You are therefore required to register your water use,” read the letter seen by CITE.

The letters further stated that failure to apply for a permit and pay the specified amounts within specified time will result in legal action being taken in terms of section 42 (2) of the Water Act without any further notice.

Contacted for a comment, Upper Gwayi Sub Catchment Council manager, Mapholisa Day said the blitz is within the law.

“Sub catchment Council is a Statutory body that is created by an act of Parliament which is the water act chapter 20 section 24 and it has some duties that it is given to perform. One of the duties that it is given to perform is to collect rates and fees. The rates that we collect include the sub-catchment rates, monitoring fee, the water fund and these are contained in that Statutory Instrument. The Statutory Instrument that we are using at present is from SI 289 of 2020, 290 of 2020, 291 of 2020 and 292 2020,” said Day.

He said the fees that are contained in the letters that people are prescribed by law.

“In terms of the water Act, the management of water started in year 2000, that was after the repeal of Water Act of 1976, this Water Act came into effect in 2000 but it was an Act that was registered and propagated by the State in 1998, so it started to function properly in year 2000.”

“In the year 2001 every person who has got a borehole was required to register in terms of section 42 of the water Act and most of the people that are now receiving letters to say they must register, did not comply with the law which requires them to register their boreholes which is why we are now going door to door ensuring that every borehole is registered,” said Day.

Day said the importance of the registration purpose is to know how many boreholes are in a given area so that they will be able to manage water resources very well and effectively,  “because the challenge that is there if we over subscribe our boreholes means we will deplete our underground water”.

He said those that are complaining did not comply with the law.

“For others that have complied there is a fee that is charged and collected from them which is for those that are in an urban set up we start with a monitoring fee. Monitoring fee is charged to every household that has a borehole in the city of Bulawayo.”

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