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No water crisis, says Joburg mayor

It is understood that repeated calls for a voluntary reduction in water usage in Durban over the past two months have yielded a paltry 1% reduction. File picture

It is understood that repeated calls for a voluntary reduction in water usage in Durban over the past two months have yielded a paltry 1% reduction. File picture

Published Nov 13, 2015



Johannesburg - There is no water crisis in Joburg. This was categorically stated by City of Joburg mayor Parks Tau and Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Pravin Gordhan at a media briefing on Thursday.

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Gordhan was in Joburg to see the situation first hand and to get feedback from Johannesburg Water after several suburbs were hit by shortages this week.

Tau said Johannesburg Water had a large storage capacity which had helped to avert a crisis.

“We were fine last week but the Eikenhof pump station failed over the weekend. This caused water shortages in Joburg at the beginning of the week. Furthermore, Rand Water turned off the Illovo pumping station on Wednesday, which caused water shortages in Sandton. This was beyond our control,” he said.

And because the demand for water has been higher during the heatwave, only high-lying areas were experiencing lower pressure and sometimes no water.

“This is because consumption is high, and because of the lower levels of the reservoirs and towers, it gets difficult to pump water to these areas,” he said.

Tau called on residents to refrain from watering their gardens.

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A total of 46 percent of potable water is used for this purpose in Joburg.

“People should use grey water to water gardens, or consider drilling a borehole, which would greatly help the city’s consumption.”

Speaking on wasted water, Tau said the city had budgeted to replace 900km of pipes by 2017. So far, 341km had been laid and 98 percent of the R3 billion budget had been spent, he said.

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The amount of water that had been unaccounted for had been reduced from 31 percent to 22 percent.

“We are seeking to ensure a degree of guaranteeing security of supply to the vast majority of our residents to reduce the number of interruptions to both residents and businesses,” Tau said.

He admitted there were operational issues, such as long turnaround times of 24 hours to repair leaks.

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“This is an unjustifiable wastage but we are confident we can overcome it,” he said.

Gordhan said there were two issues around water shortages - drought and unrelated problems.

He too confirmed that Joburg was not being affected by the drought.

“However, Joburg residents should be considerate of their neighbouring municipalities, which are experiencing drought-related problems. Joburg consumes the most in the Gauteng area,” he said.

Because South Africa is a water-strapped country, everyone should be working as “one team South Africa” to change habits. Residents, all levels of the government, churches, non-governmental organisations and businesses must start changing their water consumption behaviour,” he said.

When asked whether transformation had led to lack of capacity and skills in municipalities, Gordhan said that had not happened in Joburg, but that many other municipalities had been reckless in the light of transformation, placing unskilled people in positions.

“But we are cleaning this up,” he said.

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