The general rule in sectional title schemes is that owners are billed according to the participation quota in the scheme, determined according to the relative size of the unit. The problem with this is that this is not always reflective of the actual use of the water. A large unit owner could be away for large parts of a year and not use nearly as much water as a smaller unit that has a number of persons who use water excessively, yet on the basis of this approach, the larger unit would get the higher water bill from the Body Corporate.
Body corporates are however coming to grips with the importance of becoming stricter with the water usage in the scheme, particularly because of penalties and higher volume rates that many municipalities are implementing to curb water usage. Many schemes are creating awareness within the scheme to act more responsibly with regards to water use and even implementing scheme rules in respect of water use, allowable plants, irrigation use, water recycling and more, to help owners become more water wise. Some schemes are even going so far as to implement penalty systems to discourage abuse by owners. But yet, there will always be persons that will still try and get away and abuse the scarce water supply available to us.
Other steps that many body corporates are taking to curb this, is to have individual water meters installed for each unit, allowing each unit’s water consumption to be measured and billed to that unit. Another alternative is, installing prepaid water systems, where unit owners have to purchase water (similar to prepaid electricity). In both cases, there are potential costs and other issues involved, and such resolutions would have to be correctly taken by the body corporate. With prepaid water systems, there are also potentially constitutional issues relating to access to water to be considered. Yet, many body corporates are engaging with these processes as a necessary measure in their broader strategy to curb water usage.
There is a lot that your body corporate can do to deal with water wastage. Our advice would be to engage with your body corporate regarding the steps it is taking, raise issues that you may have noticed with them, and if necessary encourage them to seek the assistance of a sectional title specialist to help them implement water conservation steps correctly in your sectional title scheme.