Judgment condemning prepayment water meters to be appealed


Johannesburg, South Africa — (METERING.COM) — May 16, 2008 – A Johannesburg High Court judge ruled last week that the deployment of prepayment (pay-as-you-go) meters in a low-income neighborhood was unconstitutional and discriminatory, but the City of Johannesburg has elected to appeal the ruling.

The City has studied the ruling with its legal team, and believes it could be successful in having the verdict overturned. The pay-as-you-go project began in 2001, when the City introduced the water meters and at the same time embarked on a program to identify and prevent leaks, replace leaky taps and so on, which it estimates has saved some 7 billion liters a month. Since 2001 unaccounted-for water losses have been reduced from 40 percent to 32 percent in 2007.

Mavela Dlamini,
City Manager
Residents have opposed the pay-as-you-go meters, on the grounds that the allocation of free water was not sufficient and that they were being discriminated against by having to pay for additional water in advance, when most other areas in Johannesburg were supplied with credit meters.

The City has halted further deployment of the meters pending the result of the appeal, which will be heard by the Supreme Court of Appeal. Thus far some 80,000 meters have been installed in the area.