How to manage water restrictions at your home


Water awareness

Poor rainfall, extremely low dam levels, as well as a hot and dry summer season, has increased need to continuously save water. For us to make sure that we have enough water available in our dams for everyone in our province, we all need to do our part to use water sparingly and adhere to the water restrictions which are in place.

Revised water restrictions

As from 1 February 2017, the City of Cape Town has implemented level 3B water restrictions, while Beaufort West Municipality has upgraded their water restrictions to level 3. These stricter water restrictions come as a result of not enough water being saved in these regions.

We can only achieve our water saving targets together. Every citizen must be water conscious, and determine the importance of their water needs in relation to the water shortages. If you have any questions about water restrictions in your area, you can contact your local municipality

The difference between level 3 and level 3B water restrictions

Level 3 Level 3B
Watering/irrigation (with drinking water from municipal supply) of gardens, lawns, flower beds and other plants, vegetable gardens, sports fields, parks and other open spaces is allowed only if using a bucket or watering can. No use of hosepipes or automatic sprinkler systems is allowed. Watering times are not restricted, however, residents are urged to limit their watering to the mornings and evenings.  Watering/irrigation (with municipal drinking water) of flower beds, lawns, vegetables and other plants, sports fields, parks and other open spaces is allowed only on Tuesdays and Saturdays before 9am or after 6pm for a maximum of 1 hour per day per property and only if using a bucket or watering can. No use of hosepipes or any sprinkler systems allowed.
No watering/irrigation is allowed within 24 hours of rainfall that provides adequate saturation. Facilities/customers making use of boreholes, treated effluent water, spring water or well-points are not exempt. No watering/irrigation is allowed within 48 hours of rainfall that provides adequate saturation. Facilities/customers making use of boreholes, treated effluent water, spring water or well-points are not exempt.
Washing (using potable water) of vehicles and boats only is allowed if using a bucket. No washing of vehicles or boats using municipal drinking water is allowed at residential/business/industrial properties. Vehicles and boats must be washed with non-potable water or washed at a commercial carwash.


30% Reduction water tariffs 

Where level 3 water restrictions are in place, residents will be charged according to 30% reduction tariffs as from 1 November 2016 to encourage greater water-use efficiency.

For an average domestic household, the difference in rates charges are as follows: 




Level 1

Level 2 

Level 3 

Step 1 (0 < 6 kl)

Per kl




Step 2 (>6 < 10,5 kl)

Per kl




Step 3 (>10,5 < 20 kl)

Per kl




Step 4 (>20 < 35 kl)

Per kl




Step 5 (>35 < 50 kl)

Per kl




Step 6 (>50 kl)

Per kl




Water-saving tips

Water saving tips:

  • You're only allowed to water your garden with a bucket in the morning and eveningPut a bucket in the shower while you're waiting for the water to warm up, and use the water you catch for watering plants.
  • Golf courses, sports facilities, parks, schools, learning institutions, nurseries, users involved in agricultural activitiesusers with historical gardens and customers with special requirements can apply to the Director: Water and Sanitation for exemption to the above. (Visit the City of Cape Town website for the application process.)
  • No watering is allowed within 48 hours of rainfall that provides adequate saturation.(Facilities/users making use of boreholes, treated effluent water, spring water or well points are not exempt.)
  • All wellpoints and boreholes must be registered with the City and used efficiently to avoid wastage and evaporation.(Visit the City of Cape Town website  for moreinformation on registration.)
  • If alternative water sources are utilised, ensure that you display signage which is clearly visible from a public road or street.
  • No hosing down of hard-surfaced or paved areas with potable (drinking) water(except for health purposes) .Users, such as abattoirs, food processing industries, industries using water to prepare for painting or similar treatments, care facilities, animal shelters and other industries or facilities with special needs can apply to the Director: Water and Sanitation for exemption. (Visit the City of Cape Town website for the application process.)
  • Ornamental water features may only be operated with recirculated water.
  • The maximum showerhead flow rate may not exceed 10 litres per minute.
  • Toilet cisterns may not exceed 9,5 litres in capacity.


  • Use buckets to wash your vehicle. Put a bucket in the shower while you're waiting for the water to warm up, and use the water you catch to was your vehicle. 
  • Manual  top-up of swimming pools are  allowed if the pool is fitted with a pool cover to slow down the evaporation of surface water. No automatic top-up systems are allowed.
  • The use of portable play pools is not allowed.

Businesses and public facilities:

  • Commercial car wash businesses must comply with industry best practice norms for the amount of water used per car washed.
  • Informal car washers may only use buckets and not hosepipes.
  • Fitted pool covers must be used for public swimming pools where practically possible.
  • No automatic top-up systems for swimming pools are allowed.
  • Spray parks must be strictly managed to minimise water wastage.
  • All public spaces must install water efficient parts to minimise water use at all taps, showerheads and other plumbing components and must adhere to Water By-law requirements.
  • Golf courses, sports facilities, parks, schools and learning institutions can't establish any new landscaping or sports fields, except if irrigated only with non-potable water.
  • Contract conditions shall apply for any facility supplied with water in terms of special contracts (notarial deeds, water service intermediaries or water service providers) . 

Other restrictions, not detailed above, still apply as stipulated in Schedule 1 of the Water Bylaw, 2010. Please visit the City of Cape Town website for more information on: Know your water regulations.

For queries on water restrictions please send an email to

You can also stay up to date with the water levels of the main dams supplying the Cape metropolitan area.

Here’s what you can do to save water and money

At home:

  • Take shorter showers and turn off the shower while soaping up, then turn it back on to rinse. 
  • Make sure you put a full load into your washing machine and dishwasher before starting a wash cycle. 
  • Cut down the amount of water flushed down the toilet by placing a 2 litre plastic bottle full of water in the water tank (cistern) of your toilet. This could save you up to 7 300 litres of water each year. 
  • When washing dishes by hand, do not leave the water running to rinse dishes. And if you have a double basin, fill one with soapy water and one with clean water to rinse. 
  • Install a system to pump grey water (from the washing machine, basins, shower and bath) to the garden.

In the garden:

  • Plant indigenous plants which can tolerate extreme heat and require little watering.
  • Group plants with the same water needs together, so that you don’t overwater plants with varying water needs.
  • Put a covering layer around trees and plants. Covering will slow evaporation and will also discourage weeds from growing.
  • You are only allowed to water your garden once a day on designated days.
  • The best times to water your garden is at sunrise and sunset. Watering between 9am and 4pm (when the sun is brightest) is not allowed.
  • Water your lawn long enough for the moisture to soak down to the roots. A light sprinkling can evaporate quickly.
  • Plant in the right season. For winter rainfall areas, you will need to plant in autumn and early winter so the plants have a chance to develop their root systems before the dry season. In summer rainfall areas, you can plant in spring and early summer.
  • A dripping tap (one drop per second) could waste up to 30 litres of water an hour, which adds up to 10 000 litres a year.

Water Usage in Public Sector

In the industrial and commercial sector:

  • Define water requirements for your organisation, building or unit of production.
  •  Appoint a person to track water use and identify strengths to build on and weaknesses to rectify.
  •  Ensure that people are aware of  how to report major water losses from leaking or damaged pipes and hoses.
  •  Encourage staff to report dripping taps and leaking toilets.
  •  Reduce the chances of leakage by turning taps off lightly and getting washers replaced when leaks are discovered.

These simple changes can help you save up to 10% on your annual water bill, without drastically changing your lifestyle. 

Educate your children about simple ways to save water  around the home and encourage your colleagues to start saving water at work.



The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) in an effort to help citizens reduce the use of water, started the Drop-the-block campaign. This water-saving method of dropping a plastic block into the toilet cistern helps reduce the volume of water used when you flush your toilet.

Here’s what you need to know about Drop-the-block:

  • The block is made from recycled plastic to prevent erosion and blocking of the toilet.
  • The block is weighed down with sand and displaces up to 2 litres of water.
  • Toilet cisterns hold 9 to 15 litres of clean water which is dispensed with each flush.
  • After dropping the block into the cistern, a household of 4 people who go to the toilet 4 times a day, can save up to 32 litres of water per day.

If you’re interested to know more about the Drop-the-block campaign, read Drop-the-block for more information.

Exemption from water restrictions

We all need to save water and adhere to water restrictions. If however if you need to be exempt from these water restrictions, exemption will be approved in special circumstances.  Please visit the City of Cape Town website to find out how to apply for exemption from water restrictions.

Want to know more?

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