Water and sanitation recommends restrictions be imposed in struggling Gauteng municipalities

Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg and Tshwane municipalities are encouraged to monitor water usage by residents to try to restore levels in low capacity reservoirs

29 September 2023 - 13:56
By Rorisang Kgosana
Roaming water tankers are servicing some affected areas as Johannesburg Water and Rand Water battle challenges worsened by power cuts. File photo.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi Roaming water tankers are servicing some affected areas as Johannesburg Water and Rand Water battle challenges worsened by power cuts. File photo.

Gauteng municipalities have been urged to impose level 1 water restrictions because of water supply issues.

Water and sanitation minister Senzo Mchunu, with deputy ministers David Mahlobo and Judith Tshabalala, undertook a two-day fact-finding mission in the metro municipalities affected by water shortages.

Reservoir levels in Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg and Tshwane municipalities have been low for weeks, with water tankers deployed in many areas.

After the visit, Rand Water and the municipalities committed to work on immediate water management plans, including “water-shifting” as an interim measure to stabilise the low reservoir levels. This would see water being “shifted” between functioning and struggling reservoirs until they have adequate levels.

Mahlobo encouraged municipalities to impose level 1 water restrictions, especially on those who use water for gardening and irrigation.

While there is a high availability of water in the province's integrated Vaal River System, which is treated by Rand Water, water is lost due to water leaks, illegal connections, ageing and vandalism of water infrastructure in the muncipalities' reticulation systems.

“There should not be a problem of water availability in Gauteng because some of the municipalities get more water than they are licensed to have. Rand Water is also abstracting and treating more water supplied to Gauteng municipalities than it used to,” Mahlobo said.

Mchunu visited leaders of the City of Johannesburg and communities in South Hills and Ebony Park as these areas were hardest hit by water shortages in the past few weeks.

Issues of prolonged water shortage in Ekurhuleni led to a protest by residents of Makause informal settlement in Tsakane, where Mahlobo met the city’s leaders this week.

“The main causes of lack of water are intermittent power cuts that affect reservoir pump stations and the low levels of water in reservoirs in the city, ministry spokesperson Kamogelo Mogotsi said.

It was also found in Ekurhuleni that the Brakpan reservoir, which supplies Duduza, KwaThema and Tsakane, was at 35% instead of the required 60%-70% which affected mostly high-lying areas.

The ministers also visited Soshanguve and Waterkloof in Tshwane, which have also been experiencing supply challenges due to low levels in reservoirs.

Johannesburg Water said on Friday it has been reducing pressure and flow at reservoirs between 9pm and 3am at night to replenish reservoirs and fast-track the recovery.

As for South Hills tower, there have been improvements in the past few days despite the system being strained. Pumping resumed on Wednesday but this is inconsistent as the incoming supply drops at times.

“Low-lying areas may still experience no water conditions while the system recovers,” Johannesburg Water said.