/ 12 March 2024

Joburg Water says reservoirs are filling after parts of city go 10 days without water

Rand Water Pump Station
Rand Water's Eikenhof pump station. (Papi Morake/Gallo Images)

Johannesburg Water said its systems are improving and water will slowly flow back into the city’s taps.

This comes 10 days after the first of three power outages at Rand Water’s Eikenhof pump station that affected the water supply to the City of Johannesburg. Rand Water provides bulk potable water to more than 11 million people in Gauteng, as well as parts of Mpumalanga, the Free State and North West.

“Most reservoirs affected by the Eikenhof power outage have recovered and are supplying fairly to normal,” Johannesburg Water said in a statement on Tuesday. It warned residents that pipes could burst and leak as a result of the pressure of water on the empty system.

It said capacity levels had increased in the south of Johannesburg,but demand remained high in the Commando systems which include reservoirs in Hursthill, Crosby, Brixton, Lenasia and Orange Farm.

In the Sandton region, it said only the Bryanston tower was critically low because pumping was affected by an area electricity outage, while there were improvements at the Kensington B tower and Linden 2 reservoir.

“Increasing supply volumes by the bulk supplier [Rand Water] assisted the two systems to recover,” Johannesburg Water said, but adding that the Linden 1 and Blairgowrie reservoirs were still struggling because of low incoming supply pressure and volumes.

On Sunday night, Johannesburg Water said it reached an agreement with Rand Water for an additional 100 megalitres to supply struggling systems, saying this was aimed at alleviating the strain for people living in the greater Randburg area.

Eikenhof pumps 1 200 million litres of water a day and 600 million litres of that is supplied to Johannesburg through the Meredale, Weltevreden, Waterval and Krugersdorp reservoirs. From there, the water is pumped to Johannesburg, Rand West, Mogale City, Rustenburg, Merafong and several mines.

When the water is supplied to Johannesburg, it is pumped into reservoirs in Soweto, Roodepoort, Hursthill, Crosby and Brixton, after which it flows into towers and then to homes and businesses.

Johannesburg city manager Floyd Brink said during a media briefing that to assist residents during the water crisis, the council had dispatched 25 to 35 water tankers across the city. The stops for the water tankers are in Melville, Randburg and Coronationville.

Johannesburg Water said it would add more locations as more tankers became available.

Residents in the north of Johannesburg have complained that the schedule for the water tankers has not been consistent.

“‘Interventions so far have been futile. To make matters worse, a schedule for the whereabouts of water tankers is nonexistent,” ward 102 councillor Larah-Ann Davids-Green said in a post on X.

Civil society organisation, WaterCAN has called out Rand Water and its subsidiaries for failing to address the water supply crisis in Johannesburg.

“We cannot stand idly by while our communities face the threat of water scarcity, it is imperative that we come together to demand accountability and work towards sustainable solutions,” WaterCAN executive manager Ferrial Adam said in a statement.

The recent water crisis comes after the water board tabled its annual tariff increases in February.

Rand Water’s tariff document plans a basic increase to municipalities of 4.9% and another 1% increase on top of this to create a water demand management fund.

The increase will take the charge from about R12.68 a litre to about R13.43, plus VAT, and is due to take effect on 1 July, the start of the municipal financial year.

Johannesburg mayor Kabelo Gwamanda told councillors at a briefing with Johannesburg Water on Monday that the water crisis had been escalated to the national government.