Joburg's water woes continue, as reservoirs refill but many taps still dry

19 November 2021 - 11:32
While residents fill bottles, buckets and cooler boxes, a woman kneels down and prays after the arrival of a water tanker in one of the affected suburbs.
While residents fill bottles, buckets and cooler boxes, a woman kneels down and prays after the arrival of a water tanker in one of the affected suburbs.
Image: Melissa Davids

The planned 54-hour water outage that affected Johannesburg this week is officially over, but the system is yet to settle as refilling depleted reservoirs continues.

Some areas were without water on Friday while others jubilantly used too much as soon as the supply was restored.

Many residents left without water vented their frustration on social media.

“People don’t understand how the system works and what has to happen for pipes to refill again. We have a situation where people have been using water sparingly, and the weather has been very hot for the last few days,” Rand Water spokesperson Justice Mohale said.

“When the water comes back, they get very happy, use the water abnormally and start draining the system again, lowering the pressure and stopping the process of restoring supply to high-lying areas.”

Rand Water successfully completed the installation of two valve rigs on Wednesday that saw the introduction of a new pipeline to increase water supply to greater Johannesburg.

Engineer-in-charge and manager Eddie Singo said he was happy with the work done — everything had gone well and the system was in the process of normalising.

Restoring the supply to the eight affected municipalities is a complicated process and will take time. How long depends on consumer use.

“What happens after the system is drained is that it becomes full of air. So when we start pumping water in again at full capacity, the channels are cleared and we can start the process of filling our reservoirs,” said Mohale.

Water levels in Rand Water reservoirs need to be raised to 1.4m before they start feeding Joburg Water reservoirs, many of which have been depleted to critically low levels and are unable to provide for consumers. The Meredale and Forest Hill reservoirs in the Rand Water network are still being filled, so Joburg Water is not yet able to draw on them.

The result is that these Joburg Water reservoirs and towers remain affected: South Hills, Forest Hill, Crown Gardens, Eagles Nest, Naturena, Allenmanor, Crosby, Brixton, Hurst Hill, Waterval, Linden, Quellerina, Florida North and Constantia.

Cases at the Johannesburg magistrate's court were postponed on Friday due to a lack of water in the building.

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