Rand Water warns of Gauteng water systems collapse if big metros don’t reduce use

A water pipe gushes with water in Robertsham. File Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers

A water pipe gushes with water in Robertsham. File Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers

Published Dec 11, 2023


The recent heatwave in Gauteng and warmer conditions since the start of spring have been blamed for residents’ high consumption, with Rand Water warning that the residents of Joburg, Tshwane, and Ekurhuleni were using more water than targeted.

The water agency has been warning for months that water systems could be constrained due to high water consumption across all three Gauteng metropolitan areas.

Rand Water spokesperson Makenosi Maroo said the three metropolitan areas were collectively consuming above 10% more water than targeted, adding that Rand Water produce over 5,000 megalitres of water daily and could not pump more.

Joburg, Tshwane, and Ekurhuleni had a daily consumption target of 2,926 megalitres of water.

Since September, the target has been exceeded and is now being consistently exceeded since October, with consumption at over 3,273 megalitres per day as of November 23.

The graph shows the consumption of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni. Source: RandWater

"Approximately 80% of the water pumped by Rand Water goes to the Gauteng Metros. The combined weekly water consumption of the Gauteng Metros from November 27, 2023 to December 4, 2023, is 11.8% higher than the set target, implying that the metros continue to consume more water than their set targets,” he said.

According to data on the Rand Water website:

– The City of Joburg had a target of 1,500 megalitres per day, but it has been consuming above the target since August 28. Joburg was consuming 1,647 megalitres daily as of November 23, the data showed. A new target of 1,045 megalitres daily has been set.

The graph shows the consumption of Johannesburg residents. Source: RandWater

– In Tshwane/Pretoria, there was a target of 620 megalitres per day, and the area had been overusing since January. In August, Tshwane consumed over 773 megalitres per day, the highest for the year, while the latest report of November 23 showed they were consuming 664 megalitres per day. A revised target of 434 megalitres per day has been set.

The graph shows the consumption of Tshwane residents. Source: RandWater

– In Ekurhuleni, there was a daily consumption target of 813 megalitres per day, and the area has, since October, started consuming over target. As of November 23, Ekurhuleni residents were consuming 943 megalitres per day. A revised target of 569 megalitres per day has been set.

The graph shows the consumption of Ekurhuleni residents. Source: RandWater

– Collectively, the three metros have used more water than targeted since September, and Rand Water has set a 2,048 daily target to address the high consumption.

Maroo said the impact of the heatwave continued to result in high consumption above the set targets in all Gauteng metros.

“Thus, high-water consumption has increased significantly above the Metro's set targets. Rand Water continues to produce over 5,000 megalitres per day.

“In 2023, Rand Water launched Station 5A and increased its maximum peak water production to 5, 200 megalitres per day.

“Currently, Rand Water is extracting above its water licence and pumping at maximum, thus providing more water to municipalities. Accordingly, there is no additional water to be produced from Rand Water systems,” said Maroo.

Rand Water said technical teams were working hard to stabilise reservoir levels and water supply to various areas.

“In addition, these technical teams have put in place mitigation strategies and alternative interventions to boost water supply. The technical teams' efforts to stabilise the system are met with continued high water consumption; therefore, the system is rapidly depleting.

“Rand Water hereby cautions that, should this high consumption continue unabated, the water systems will eventually collapse. Rand Water is producing and pumping at full capacity and cannot add anymore water into the system; demand is outstripping supply,” said Maroo.

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