Water shortage looming in Gauteng. Picture: Antoine de Ras, 23/09/2014

Johannesburg - Nobody really knows when the province’s water shortages will end, although Rand Water is hoping the public holiday today will give it a much-needed reprieve.

The outages in Joburg, Ekurhuleni, Mogale and parts of Tshwane were extended yesterday as the affected municipalities keep adding areas to their growing list of suburbs without water.

Residents are furious as many are now entering their second week without water.

The problem has spread as far as Mogale City, Florida, Roodepoort, Westonaria, Merafong City, Centurion, Atteridgeville and even Rustenburg in North West.

Parts of Denver, Cleveland, Kensington, Bedfordview, Alrode, Westdene and several suburbs in the Randjesfontein/Ebony Park areas are also dry.

The Ekurhuleni municipality confirmed yesterday that Kempton Park had also started experiencing shortages.

These included areas such as Isando, Spartan, Glen Marais, Pomona, Bredell, Aston Manor, Rhodesfield and Croyden.

“As Rand Water and Ekurhuleni engineers are continuously working around the clock to bring the situation back to normal, we wish to emphasise our call to residents to assist the process by using the little available water sparingly,” Ekurhuleni spokesman Themba Gadebe said.

Godfrey Maumela, the executive manager of bulk water at Rand Water, yesterday admitted a number of new suburbs had become affected by shortages.

“We are trusting that the public holiday will put less pressure on the system, because people won’t be going to work,” he said.

Maumela said low-lying areas were not experiencing problems, but those on hills were, because the water needed to be pumped upwards.

He hoped the holiday would help reservoirs fill up within two days.

Part of the water problem relates to power failures at pump stations.

DA councillor Warren Gwilt, spokesman on economic development in Ekurhuleni, said while the ANC had called a meeting, the truth was not being communicated to councillors or residents.

“We were told yesterday that the reservoirs were filling up, but this is a lie,” he said.

“Between Ekurhuleni and Joburg there are some 6 million people and there are not sufficient water tankers to supply everyone with water. We need answers as to why there was no back-up plan.”

Yesterday, City Power head of operations Louis Pieterse said a technical fault at Orlando had led to a loss of power at the Eikenhof pumping station, which supplies water to more than 40 percent of Joburg.

The standby generator, which was installed in November, did not kick in as it was faulty and it could take 14 days to replace it.

Hospitals and schools have been particularly hard hit.

Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital and the Helen Joseph and Kalafong hospitals were among a few health facilities that experienced water shortages.

Health Department spokesman Prince Hamnca said yesterday the problem had since been corrected.

“During the shortages, the hospitals use water from the tanks for emergencies such as cooking and bathing of patients. These tanks are filled by municipal trucks that come through each day.

“None of the affected hospitals have experienced severe disruption of services,” he said.

On Monday, both Life Bedford Gardens and Life Roseacres Clinic were affected.

“We would purchase more than the sufficient supply of water required as part of our contingency plans. This ensures that we always have adequate water levels in our hospitals,” said Life Healthcare spokeswoman Mpho Lethoko.

“In case we experience water shortages, we would automatically switch to reservoir tanks,” she said, adding that all hospitals had water reservoir tanks that were maintained at optimum levels.

Martina Nicholson, of Netcare, confirmed there were no current disruptions at the company’s hospitals.

“We, however, make provision for such emergencies and do not expect the disruption to impact operations at our hospitals.” - The Star