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Joburg can no longer rely on its water supply

Demand often exceeds supply as infrastructure crumbles; Rand Water has been forced to reduce supply to Johannesburg, causing water outages.
The Yeoville water tower in Johannesburg. Ageing infrastructure and demand outstripping supply are blamed for Johannesburg’s recent water woes. Image: Masego Mafata

“We did not have water for nine days in July. Now it’s happened for the second time within a month,” said Tilly Meyer from the Glenzicht Retirement Village in Oakdene, Johannesburg.

Oakdene is one of six areas (South Hills, Linmeyer, Risana, Tulisa Park, parts of Oakdene and parts of Rosettenville Extension) receiving water from the South Hills tower, which were hit by water supply interruptions last week.

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A staff member from South Hills clinic said a week without water had a severe impact on the clinic. “Our facility must be cleaned at least three times a day but when there was no water, we could only clean it twice a day, at most. We could not flush our toilets or wash hands with soap and water as often as we’re used to. It was inhumane for our staff to be working under such conditions,” he said.

The clinic relied on a water truck that parked outside the clinic daily for use by the community.

“Last week, officials came to inspect the yard to see where a water tank could be installed. We are hopeful that a tank will be installed soon as it will help, especially when the water supply is interrupted,” he said.

“The City of Johannesburg has experienced unprecedented water supply challenges in some parts of the City in the past few months,” said Mayco Member for Environment and Infrastructure Mpho Moerane in a statement released on Wednesday.

A South Hills resident said it was only after some residents protested at the South Hills tower, on the fifth day of no water, that an explanation was given.

According to Johannesburg Water spokesperson Eleanor Mavimbela, the water supply to the South Hills tower was interrupted because Rand Water, the bulk water supplier in Gauteng, had a power supply issue at their Zuikerbosch purification works on 26 August. This affected their Palmiet pump station that feeds the Meyers Hill reservoir.

“Water levels in the Meyers Hill reservoir were below the threshold at which we could pump water into the South Hills tower. This meant that areas receiving water from the tower were without supply since 26 August,” said Mavimbela.

Water was restored on the evening of 1 September after Rand Water “boosted the Meyers Hill reservoir,” she said.

“When the water supply was restored last week, we had a few geysers burst in the village because of the pressure,” said Tilly Meyer.

But water restored came as a relief for the 250 elderly residents at Glenzicht.

“It becomes very difficult because you can’t expect elderly people to walk a couple of blocks to a water tanker and then carry the buckets home,” said Meyer.

Ageing infrastructure and Rand Water reducing water supply to Gauteng have also affected the water supply for other areas in Johannesburg.

Rand Water said it was “under severe pressure whereby the water demand consistently exceeds the water supply”.

It said restrictions were implemented to allow for the recovery of its network systems. Residents can expect an intermittent water supply.

The City is currently under mild (level one) water restrictions.

In its 2021/22 business plan, Johannesburg Water said the replacement cost for infrastructure as at 30 June 2020 was R88 billion, with an infrastructure renewal backlog of R20.4 billion.

Klipfontein View in Midrand was also without water at the end of August, for almost two weeks.

“At first, we were told that we don’t have water because of the Rand Water restrictions. But after a few days, we were told that valves had broken down, which interrupted water supply to Klipfontein View,” said Ward 32 Councillor Bongani Nkomo (DA).

Nkomo said water had been restored to 80% of Klipfontein View on Tuesday night, while the remaining 20% of the area is still without water.

“The remaining 20% form part of the high-lying areas and will be supplied with water tankers until supply has been restored,” he said.

Ward 57 Councillor Faeeza Chame (DA) said four suburbs in her ward ー South Hills, Linmeyer, Risina and Tulisa Park ー were affected.

“This water crisis is a human rights violation. People have the right to basic water supply and basic sanitation, according to the Water Services Act.

“But for a week, this right was violated because there was no water,” she said.

“Johannesburg Water sent water tankers but my ward is quite big and we only had five tankers servicing areas without water. Within an hour of being full, the tanks were empty again,” she said.

Some DA ward councillors opened a case against Moerane on 4 September at the Moffatview Police Station for the contravention of water supply.

Moerane said in a statement it was “a spectacle” and “inopportune” that the DA opened the case, because the water challenges “were beyond the control of Johannesburg Water”.

© 2021 GroundUp. This article was first published on GroundUp, here.

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I truly hope no member of RSA Inc is surprised by this as it was all too predictable for many years now. It was only a matter of time before all this lack of maintenance comes to the fore…..sadly we are fully on track to catch up and exceed ZimBobwe’s trials and tribulations.

Learn to take responsibility and deal with your failures and inefficiencies without having to drag neighbouring countries, specifically Zimbabwe into the mix. You all know that the Lesotho Highlands Water Phase II has taken longer to commission because of your issues. Deal with that,phew!!! You should be discussing ways to mitigate this sad situation,,instead you finding time to be dragging the mighty House of Stones into this..Icho.

I’m truly thankful to Zimbabwe for providing us with great waiters and gardeners.

It’s so hard to find good help these days.

Much appreciated.

Mighty House of Stones? Zimbabwe is a outhouse, longdrop toilet.

Zim is gold turned to feces, thanks to the indigenous population. SA is Zim2.0 – for the very same reasons

Not a day goes by where we read that something is going to give and the looting continues unabated, with no consequence to bare..A useless leader at that

At the behest of the Governing party they have managed to reduce this beautiful country to a rathole of filth, corruption and embarrassment making way for a failed State, and we the people bear the brunt

Despite this, they meticulously carve away at our hard earned money, living it up in style whilst unemployment is ever on the up!

If the ANC were a person, one would diagnose him/her with (ASPD) better known as antisocial personality disorder or psychopathic..Because that is the characteristic trait of a psychopath

Thats what we’re dealing with here. They show no care, even less remorse

When you cannot supply enough Electricity, nor pay your own employees, and continue feeding your people with lies, your days are surely numbered

How ridiculous it is that they take our money, squander it at whim, show no shame and do it over and over

How long can this continue before we as a country eventually implode? We’re on the edge of the precipice and only the a vote in the right direction from the masses, will prevent us from falling over into an abyss so deep, there is no return

Sadly though, i don’t see a short term solution, not even within the opposition

It’s concerning, it’s very worrying and it might just be too late in the day to fix what these miserable leaders have broken

All men may have been created equal but all men definitely do not make equal use of their God given talents.

yup and after being “free” and ruining their own country they follow their former masters to beg once again Amandla LOL

Its called planning. As experience has shown, something the cANCer is not very good at.

Case in point is ESKOM.

Not too long now and “water shedding” will be common occurrence.

Nah — Lots of plans =– Just no executions !!

VIVA ANC — System is now totally “transformed” !!!

Electricity – Transformed.
Water – Transformed.
Corruption – Transformed. Actually transformed to a whole new level.

What else?

we can give a list to the ANC to transform. The sooner the better.

I understand it takes brains and intelligence to do an operation,writing software,designing and building a computer, sending someone into space etc………but basic maintenance??

Theres no money for maintenance.

Only cash for Salaries.

And water tanks it seems. Supplied by comrade tankers.

Plumbing is definitely not difficult, same as wood work or basic electricity, but hard work and hard labor.

Johannesburg will probably follow Vanderbijlpark and Vereeniging soon,
when a street light/lamp post goes down, it stays down for the next century.

I am intrigued by all the lamp posts destroyed (Grinded/cut down) in Hans Strijdom going towards Krugersdorp.

Probably used the wrong contractor, the tax payer paid for the work, and now they are probably going to pay a friend to remove the lamp posts and install their preferred lamp posts.

Someone told me 18 years ago that the big street lights cost over R120,000 each

The situation is what it is. I am more concerned with the ultimate outcome, or destination of this trend. Where is this road we are traveling on taking us?

If you keep on going south on the N1, sooner or later you will reach Cape Town. What does this point of equilibrium look like in an African-class major city? What is the value of a property in such a city and on what basis does a municipality raise income in such a city? No water and electricity to sell means there is also no property value to tax.

More questions than answers..

Sensei….as goes Lebanon, so will SA. It’s inevitable.

“Unprecedented water supply challenges” is code for “blithering incompetence by people who are too busy stealing to focus on governance.”

CoJ has more or less collapsed. The roads have never looked this bad, there are traffic lights which have been dead for weeks, the reliability of the water and power grid is risible. 1 November is the date, voters…

Resident here.
Not a supply issue – Vaal Dam at 87% full. Maladministration and incompetence issue.
As soon as we picketted outside Rand Water head office in Impala/Kliprivier they restored water that same day. Management was unaware there was a problem. Useless and overpaid.

Johannesburg – a World Class African City !!!! I am certain our ANC masters of the universe cannot see the irony .

End of comments.

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