/ 20 June 2024

Johannesburg Water: Maintenance project ‘not a crisis’ for city’s supply

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Rand Water’s upcoming month-long infrastructure maintenance project is “not a crisis” nor will it result in a total shutdown of Johannesburg’s supply, Johannesburg Water said on Thursday.

The utility has, however, recommended that customers store a reasonable quantity of water before the weekend in preparation for the extensive maintenance that the bulk water supplier will be conducting from 22 June to 29 July.

The maintenance, which is being implemented to improve the reliability and efficiency of Rand Water’s infrastructure, will affect Johannesburg Water’s systems supplied by the Palmiet and Eikenhof pump stations as well as the Daleside booster station.

“I must stress that these activities are not a shutdown,” Logan Munsamy, the senior manager of operations at Johannesburg Water said on Thursday, while addressing a briefing on the utility’s preparedness for the upcoming project. 

“It’s not a complete switching off of water into the distribution network. There are various maintenance activities that will be performed on various days and these maintenance activities will result in a reduced flow of water into our distribution network.”

Water tankers, storage tanks

He said that with the reduced flow of water into the distribution system, Johannesburg Water anticipates that certain areas could experience reduced flow and reduced pressure, especially high-lying areas. 

To mitigate this, 85 water trucks will be deployed to various regions as and when required, while 250 tanks will be supplied, including to hospitals, clinics, old-age homes, schools and police stations.

Water tankers will be dispatched to any part of an area or suburb where they are required, as directed by councillors, according to Munsamy. 

“We continue to have extensive ongoing communications to residents and councillors before and during the shutdown period …

“As much as we will be deploying water tankers, we are urging residents to store a reasonable quantity of water prior to the weekend for essential/critical needs.” 

Residents should not rely solely on water tankers or tanks for their needs. 

“We understand and appreciate that some residents have medical challenges, they need to take medication, and toilets need water to flush.

“This is not a crisis and there is no need to panic but for the convenience of having water, we then ask customers to store water for the duration of the shutdown. We are starting to fill up the reservoirs to make sure that they are … as full as possible when the shutdown starts.”

What is happening and when

Rand Water has four main booster stations: Eikenhof, Palmiet, Mapleton and Zwartkopjes. 

On 24 June, pumping at the Eikenhof pumping station will be reduced to 50% for eight hours and later increased to 67% for the next 64 hours. For the remainder of the project, Eikenhof will operate at 83% capacity for more than two weeks.

On 24 June, pumping at the Zwartkopjes pumping station will be reduced to 50% for 27 hours. There will be no pumping at Daleside for four hours.

Pumping at the Palmiet system will not be affected during the implementation of the project on 28 June in Ekurhuleni. On 1 July, the station will operate at 60% for eight hours. On 15 July, Palmiet will be pumping at 68% for 50 hours. On 29 July, the system will be pumping at 76% for 40 hours.

Maintenance work at the Mapleton system will commence on 5 July and pumping will be

reduced to 73% for 24 hours. On 19 July, pumping will not be affected. Only two metres in the City of Ekurhuleni and three in the City of Tshwane will be affected for 39 hours. On 26 July, there will be no pumping for 77 hours.

Benefits of planned maintenance

According to Rand Water, proactive infrastructure maintenance is important to preserve the quality and integrity of its infrastructure and extend the lifespan of its assets.

Munsamy said that Rand Water, like Johannesburg Water, operates a system consisting of mechanical, electrical and civil components that run 24/7. 

“They work hard, similarly to your car. You cannot use the car past a certain mileage because you need to do certain maintenance activities otherwise it will fail. Similarly, these pump stations, reservoirs and treatment works require preventative maintenance.” 

The maintenance project would improve pump infrastructure availability and reliability; optimise infrastructure functioning; reduce Rand Water bulk supply infrastructure downtime and enhance continuity and the reliability of supply by Johannesburg Water’s system, specifically its reservoirs, towers and direct-feed areas.

“As much as these maintenance activities result in … inconvenience to residents, the long-term or medium-term benefits … will ensure that we have a more efficient and improved system,” he said.