Gauteng municipalities seemingly have no plan to address water shortages

The department of water & sanitation and co-operative governance and traditional affairs met with the three metro municipalities to address water challenges, but it seemed no concrete plan was in place to resolve it.

23 September 2023 - 16:25
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A man fetches water from a government-supplied water tank during one of the country's many water outages.
A man fetches water from a government-supplied water tank during one of the country's many water outages.
Image: Antonio Muchave

Metro municipalities in Gauteng seemingly have no concrete plans to address the persisting challenges around water shortages which have worsened since the violent storm that swept across the province this week.

This was determined by minister of water and sanitation Senzo Mchunu and minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs Thembi Nkadimeng after engaging with Rand Water and mayors of the various municipalities on Friday night to discuss water conservation and demand management plans.

The province faced ongoing water outages this week, including in Tshwane, the northern suburbs of Johannesburg and Ekurhleni.

Mchunu started the meeting by referring to previous engagements with municipalities on plans they had committed to in addressing the shortfalls in their areas.

Deputy director-general of water and sanitation services management Risimati Mathye presented the recent shortfalls in the three metros, attributing these to the growing population in the province.

“Rapid population growth in Gauteng, coupled with increasing water losses in municipal water distribution systems in Gauteng, have resulted in a situation where the peak demand for water from Rand Water’s municipal customers is close to, and occasionally exceeds, the available supply.”

Another contributing factor is load-shedding and the lack of capital investment in proactive operations, maintenance and infrastructure by municipalities.

Rand Water however said it was “chasing” the demand caused by the increasing consumption and engages with metros on a regular basis on measures to reduce the high consumption rate.

The water utility managed to restore water supply to parts of northern Johannesburg on Saturday after a week of no water or low-pressure supply.

This was due to power lines at Rand Water’s Zuikerbosch water treatment plant, one of Rand Water’s primary systems, being affected by the severe storm on Tuesday night, which led to about 2 million litres of water lost per day.

The three municipalities responded to the presentation, with Johannesburg outlining what plans it had in place to reduce pressure and address reservoir management, spokesperson of the water, ministry Kamogelo Mogotsi said.

“The City of Tshwane stated that its non-revenue water statistics had improved over the years as measures had been put in place to reduce such losses. The City of Ekrhuleni stated that it had turned its focus on correcting metering and billing, but also lamented the repetitive vandalism of infrastructure.”

Due to the lack of concrete plans by municipalities, Mchunu directed Rand Water and his department to meet in the coming week with technical officials from all municipalities to develop a plan.

“It was further agreed that upon receipt of that plan, the public would be briefed,” Mogotsi said.

Tshwane was informed by Rand Water on Friday that its Klipfontein Reservoir, which supplies the Hartebeeshoek Reservoir, had improved and water would be released to feed the Soshanguve, Ga-Rankuwa, Mabopane and Winterveldt areas.

Spokesperson Selby Bokaba said the city expects to see improvements in those areas.

“The city will continue to monitor the affected reservoirs and areas very closely. Meanwhile, water tankers have been dispatched to the affected areas and are co-ordinated through ward councillors. As water supply is restored to the affected areas, residents in those areas are requested to use water wisely and sparingly to assist the bulk water system and the city’s reservoirs to recover quickly,” Bokaba said.

Rand Water also met Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni officials to discuss the impact of the power supply failure to the Zuikerbosch waste water treatment plant, which was one of the major causes of the outage in the province.

Spokesperson Makenosi Maroo said the utility's technical and communications team had attended the meetings where it was agreed they would work together to address the water supply issues.

“It is important to mention that all three entities are committed to strengthening proactive engagement, co-operation, co-ordination and communication,” Maroo said.


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