/ 15 March 2024

Closed valve not behind 12-day outage, says Rand Water

Tap Water
Although most South Africans still consider their tap water safe to drink, their confidence in water services is waning

Rand Water said a closed valve was not part of the water outage that has left many Johannesburg residents’ taps running dry for 12 days.

The bulk water supplier said its technical teams discovered that one of its valves had been closed, restricting water supply into the system.

The valve has since been opened and Rand Water said it will investigate why the valve was closed.

“The closed valve was, however, not the cause of the water outage which was due to an incident at the Eikenhof pump station,” Johannesburg Water said in a statement on Wednesday.

Residents in Johannesburg have been without water since 3 March after City Power reported three separate power outages that affected Rand Water’s Eikenhof pump station.

Ward 102 councillor Luncida Harman said even though the valve has been opened, “the taps are still dry”.

Eikenhof supplies water to systems in Soweto, Randburg, Roodepoort, as well as south and central Johannesburg.

Johannesburg Water said although the opening of the valve did assist with building a bit of capacity into the Linden 1 and Linden 2 reservoirs, “the Kensington B reservoir and tower and Blairgowrie reservoir are still critically low to empty”.

Johannesburg mayor Kabelo Gwamanda, who met city councillors this week, told residents that an investigation into the water crisis is under way.

“The reason is yet to be determined because there is an investigation that is under way. That only covers two areas that were affected the longest,” Gwamanda said in an interview with broadcaster Newzroom Afrika.

Following service delivery protests in Diepkloof, the mayor condemned calls by city residents to boycott rates and taxes. “It is a politically motivated approach to undermine black leadership, to be blunt about it.” 

Although some suburbs in the south of Johannesburg have confirmed that the water supply has increased, they are concerned about the poor communication from Johannesburg Water. 

“The city needs to communicate and let us know what they plan to do in the long term about the water crisis because we are paying for water yet we don’t have any. This cannot go on,” said a resident from Mondeor in the south 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.

Johannesburg residents are not the only ones with a water crisis. Some Durban residents have been without water for 150 days while others have had no piped water to their homes yet they are still being billed by the eThekwini metro.

South Africa’s water crisis has been exacerbated by an increasing population, climate change and failing infrastructure, according to the Helen Suzman Foundation.