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In attendance Cecile Jonkheid, Lisel Krige, Dan Fick, Hanie Hanekom and Peter Berrisford

Minutes follow the headings on the circulated agenda.

Water

It was noted that permanent residents experience extremely high water consumption readings from time to time that appear to be unrelated to any unusual actual excessive water usage.

Two possible explanations were discussed. Excessive usage might possibly relate to meter malfunctioning when high incidences of water stoppages have been noted. The question was asked, “Are the meters affected by stop-start situations accompanied by water hammer, displaced air bubbles, and rapid pressure changes associated with switching the water back on again?’

Secondly, there has been a change over in meter reading staff who were initially untrained. “Was it possible that incorrect meter readings were being sent through to the accounts department, either because of incompetence, unreliable estimates, or possibly retrospective feeding of false readings to the office to cover for not actually reading meters regularly and correctly?’

In particular it was noted that if a low (possibly incorrect) is fed through, followed later by an actual reading, then the monthly invoice for water would be extremely high. It was also noted that readings are taken at irregular intervals, which could also distort calculations of the cost of water. The position is complicated by the routine calculation of the monthly charge on a monthly basis when one monthly invoice would be calculated on readings between say 70 days and say 20 days.

It was suggested that consideration should be given to charging for water on a moving average basis, still using the same scale of charges. This would smooth out consumption; reduce the impact of incorrect readings distorting consumption calculations. It was noted that Louise van Eeden had been very helpful in providing statistics

The following actions were suggested.

1. Check whether meters are susceptible to giving incorrect readings when slugs of water mixed with air often at high pressure occur. This typically happens when there has been a succession of interruptions in supply, as occurs with burst pipes and maintenance.

2. Audit the meter readers on a regular basis i.e. supervisors must do random checks on readings on a regular basis.

However the biggest benefit will occur if water invoices are calculated on a moving average basis. This requires a modification to Municipal software which should be relatively easy since all the information is available at present. The use of a moving average will render the system much less sensitive to unreliable meter readings. In fact the intervals between readings could be increased, saving labour. The errors arising from reliance on unreliable readings by unsophisticated meter readers can be greatly reduced.

Refuse

It was noted that refuse is being collected and transported on a wide variety of vehicles. Bakkies, expensive refuse compacting vehicles, rigid trucks with expanded mesh bodies and occasionally by draw-bar trailers.

It was felt that a massive improvement in efficiency with commensurate cost savings can be achieved by standardising on draw-bar trailers with expanded mesh bodies, drawn by bakkies.

For example, a draw-bar trailer placed at the Betty’s Bay Municipal offices, once full, can simply be towed to the transfer station where the contents can be simply transferred to a waiting container for onward movement to the applicable dump. Double and triple handling of refuse can be eliminated. The same standard draw-bar trailer design can be used to collect refuse and re-cycling from residents.

Betty’s bay (and other local villages) has a particular problem in that some 80% of homes are owned by absentee landlords who are only in residence irregularly and for relatively short periods. Refuse collection routines should be designed to collect refuse taking into account this characteristic.  Some simple way of alerting the refuse collecting vehicle that refuse must be collected from a particular residence should be considered, so that unnecessary stops to check empty bins can be eliminated.. This will speed up refuse collection rounds enormously, since the collecting vehicle will only have to stop at say 20% of houses, instead of stopping at every house to check bins.

A suggestion that wheelie bins might become mandatory, lead to the suggestion that they could be designed to have some kind of flag to indicate they are full. Alternatively, as happens in other residential areas, the wheelie bin, when ready for collection, is wheeled out by the resident on previously regularly agreed collection days.

The whole question of improving the procedures for refuse collection needs to be reviewed.

The following actions were agreed.

1. A specialist refuse management consultant should be appointed to standardise on and recommend an improved refuse management system. The benefits are enormous.

2. Once an approved standard design for refuse handling/collection has been agreed, all additional / replacement vehicles should take the standard design into account.

3. The standard draw-bar trailer must be designed to incorporate a baboon proof counterweighted hatch so that once a refuse bag is loaded into the trailer, baboons cannot gain entry.

Roads

It was noted that road width standards are such that many roads, in particular minor ones, are unnecessarily wide. A reduction in road width standards would lead to reduced maintenance costs.

The question of maintaining verges particularly in respect of low traffic minor roads was discussed. It was noted that the Botanical Society is studying the question of when to mow verges.

It was agreed that:

A review of standard road widths and the need for mown verges should be conducted road by road over the whole village. A significant reduction in road maintenance costs can be expected without any serious disadvantages.

Fire

Some discussions regarding the role of volunteer fire fighters took place. The terrible risks associated with uncontrolled fires were noted. The discussion of various practical aspects of such things as remuneration, and insurance of volunteer fire fighters has taken the attention off the paramount issue, which is that whatever is decided, the emphasis must be on very quick response. Volunteer fire fighters must be given encouragement and recognition.

Action: The Municipality must develop a plan to ensure very rapid response to any outbreak of fire as its overriding consideration. Some of the other practical problems must not be allowed to hinder this process.

Dawidskraal River and the Otter Close Bridge

It was noted that substantial and promising repairs have been affected to the bridge. This bridge however remains vulnerable to intermittent flash floods.

During the last major flood a few years ago, the river changed course below the R44 Bridge. The main reason for this was that palmiets have largely blocked the flow down the previous river course. If these palmiets can be trimmed back, it should be possible for a significant portion of the water flowing down under the bridge to flow down the course it used before. To this end, it was suggested that a study of this proposal be done, perhaps by Municipal engineers and the Environmental Manager in Hermanus, to determine on the applicability of this proposal.  It was noted that SANBI has some responsibility for the environmental aspects of the area below the bridge, and would need to be involved. Also, some flooding of properties downstream of the bridge has been reported in the past, so Palmiet clearing further downstream might also be desirable.

Action: The municipality must initiate a study of the various factors to be taken into account to re-channel some part of the water down the old river course. This should substantially reduce the risk of a repeat collapse of the Otter Close Bridge

Communications with the Municipality

The 24 hour emergency number, 0283138111 is available. Cecile Jonkheid said in the event of a serious problem, she is available at all times where assistance is needed. Should residents wish to receive a SMS when water supply interruptions occur, their cell phone numbers must be phoned through to the emergency number.

Follow Up

It was noted that many of the above items have been on the Ratepayer and Ward Committee agendas. However the above were intended to be recorded as recommendations, rather than complaints.

It was agreed that a follow up of these points is desirable. A review of progress will be made.