Charging for stormwater in South Africa
The social, economic and environmental impacts of poor water quality on South Africa’s urban aquatic systems are increasingly being highlighted by the media. Improving the water quality in these systems will require catchment-wide strategies, including the monitoring and management of point and non-point source pollution collected in stormwater. Significant costs may be incurred; however, international experience suggests that these are outweighed by the benefits. Municipalities across South Africa charge their citizens for potable water and sewerage. Stormwater management, however, is generally funded through municipal rates. Competition with other pressing needs frequently results in the stormwater departments being significantly under-funded – at times only receiving a tenth of what is required for water quantity management. Internationally, an increasing number of cities have introduced a direct charge for stormwater management in order to secure the funding required to manage stormwater and its associated water pollution, and to serve as a disincentive to polluting practices on the part of landowners. In order to ensure adequate funding for stormwater management in South Africa, municipalities need to consider charging for stormwater management either based on an Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) or Residential Equivalent Factor (REF), combined with an appropriate discount scheme for on-site stormwater management. Preliminary indicative rates have been calculated for municipalities across South Africa using the Damage Avoidance Cost (DAC) approach. The results indicate that the amount that municipalities could and should charge varies widely, from ZAR30 (2010) to ZAR110 (2010) per residential unit per month, depending on climatic zone and level of treatment.
Keywords: stormwater management, damage avoidance cost, stormwater utilities