South Africa

SUPPLY CRISIS

Rand Water shutdowns to restrict consumers’ supply in eight municipalities over 54-hour period

Rand Water has scheduled a 54-hour water shutdown from 15-17 November 2021. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Water will continue to run from taps but residents are urged to use it sparingly to avoid total outages.

Rand Water has scheduled a 54-hour water shutdown to augment infrastructure. 

The shutdown is scheduled from 15-17 November 2021 and will affect  a range of areas across eight municipalities including the City of Johannesburg, Rand West, Mogale City, Merafong, Rustenburg, Madibeng, Metsimaholo and Emfuleni.

Eddie Singo, executive Manager at Rand Water, said the shutdown is part of the utility’s augmentation project that is concerned with increasing the capacity and efficiency of the water supply. Singo said the shutdown is also a maintenance measure to improve flexibility by 2024.

Singo added, “The reason for this shutdown project is to add a new pipe that will:

  • Increasing the capacity of water from the river to our water treatment plants;
  • Provide flexibility if we want to do maintenance on the water pipes, so we don’t need to shut down everything; and
  • Increase volumes of the old pipes to ensure a sustainable supply of water to the consumers.”

To clarify what the shutdown means to consumers, Singo told Daily Maverick that consumers will still have access to running water during the shutdown. However, they are advised to use water sparingly to avoid emptying Rand Water’s reserves, which Singo said could be catastrophic.

“This is a shutdown to augment the infrastructure. So once we start talking about water-shedding and water cuts it gets confused in interpretation. We are implementing a shutdown that is only affecting one line. Under normal circumstances, our water treatment capacity pumps at least 4,840megalitres for 24 hours’ supply. With regards to the shutdown, the supply will be less by 600megalitres of water and consumers will still have access to 4,250megalitres of water in our system.”

Singo continued, “We also gave municipalities 21 days’ notification to come up with contingency plans in case water runs out. Should consumers listen to our advice to use water sparingly, the shutdown won’t be felt. But if they decide otherwise then we will not have water. South Africa is semi-arid, we don’t have much water so every drop counts.”

City of Johannesburg areas that will experience supply constraints include Rand Water Eikenhof Pump Station to the South of Johannesburg, Langlaagte, Johannesburg CBD, Randburg, Roodeport, Southdale and Soweto.

Eleanor Mavimbela, Johannesburg Water spokesperson, said that to manage the shutdown the Rand Water Eikenhof Pump Station that supplies water to the South of Johannesburg, Northern and Western areas will be reduced by 25%. The water supply from the Rand Water Zwartkoppies system to the central CBD will be reduced by 50%. 

“We anticipate that water supply reduction will result in poor to no water supply during peak water demand periods in most high paying and high demand areas. Stationary and roaming water tankers will be made available, where feasible, to reduce the impact to consumers.

“Johannesburg Water is pleading with residents to assist us by using water sparingly to reduce the impact of the scheduled interruption, said Mavimbela.” DM

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