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Rand Water throttles supply as it battles to deal with spike in usage

Consumers urged to save water 'so system doesn’t become overly compromised'

30 August 2021 - 14:01 By belinda pheto
Rand Water has issued a notice of 20% water restrictions to municipalities in Gauteng. Stock photo.
Rand Water has issued a notice of 20% water restrictions to municipalities in Gauteng. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/maridav

High water usage in households and businesses, together with ageing municipal infrastructure including leaking water pipes, has led to Rand Water issuing Gauteng municipalities with a notice of 20% water restrictions. 

Rand Water spokesperson Gregg Mulzack told TimesLIVE on Monday that in recent weeks they were battling to meet the demand for water in the province

“We saw a very sharp increase in water usage in recent weeks, where demand was exceeding supply,” he said.

Mulzack said high water use is something that they usually experience whenever temperatures start rising.

“We can accept infrastructural issues may also result in a loss of water and increase the demand, things like burst water pipes,” he said.

Rand Water has exceeded its limit of what its licence permits it to abstract from the Vaal Dam, he said.

“Our abstraction licence permits us to abstract 1,347-million cubic metres of raw water from the Vaal Dam. At the moment, we are at 1,680-million cubic metres abstracted. That’s more than 330-million over what we are allowed to abstract.”

Mulzack said they were over-abstracting to meet demand and decided to load-shift to avoid compromising the network.

“We engaged with municipal customers and told them about the need to reduce water supply so the system doesn’t become overly compromised. Municipalities worked as best as they could to do with the reduction.”

The issue of water conservation was crucial and individuals will need to decrease their consumption and find ways to save water, he said.

“You can manage water responsibly and wisely. Individually where you are you can make a difference. We are ranked 33 as one of the driest countries in the world. We don’t have water in abundance.”

Mulzack said Rand Water doesn’t want to see a situation where people are without water.

“The last thing we want is for communities to find themselves without water, especially in these difficult times during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

He said two reservoirs were constrained in Gauteng — one in Ekurhuleni and the other south of Johannesburg. He said some people in those areas could be experiencing water cuts but they are working tirelessly to make sure the reservoirs are filled and water is restored to the affected areas.

With the current restrictions, residents are not allowed to water or irrigate gardens with a hosepipe or sprinkler system between 6am and 6pm. They are also not allowed to wash vehicles with hosepipes or high-pressure systems and cannot fill swimming pools.