File picture: Pexels
File picture: Pexels

Concern over water supply as Gauteng heat wave looms

By LEHLOHONOLO MASHIGO Time of article published Oct 25, 2019

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Johannesburg - Gauteng residents can expect a scorching weekend as temperatures are expected to soar. The rising temperatures, as well as low water dam levels, has caused officials at the Department of Water and Sanitation to call for residents to use water sparingly this weekend. 

Department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said they are concerned about the strain on water resources as the heat wave hits Gauteng and other provinces.

He said it was also worrisome as it implies high rates of evaporation from dams.

Ratau said that they are no fears of Gauteng which gets most of its water from the Vaal dam would reach a ‘Day Zero’ situation.

“For us as officials we do not recognise the day zero concept. We operate on the basis of the system not failing,” he said.

Ratau further urged water users to understand that water scarcity is a reality in South Africa.

“The country receives less than world average rainfall therefore we need to actively re-use and recycle water, use less water per capita than we are doing right now. We need to recognise that Climate Change is real and therefore inclement weather patterns are upon us to stay. We need to be cognisant of the declining dam levels but there is no need to press the panic button,” he said.

SA Weather services forecaster Jan Vermeulen said that a heat wave was caused by a build-up of temperatures over a while resulting from an upper air ridge system.

“It is maintained by the fact that the ridge stays in place for a period of three or more days,” said Vermeulen  

He said a heat wave occurs when the maximum temperatures for three days have to be the maximum temperature for the warmest month to be considered a heat wave.

This has raised concerns about the demand for water demand requirements in provinces affected by a heat wave.

Rand Water said the current combination of extremely high temperatures and virtually no rainfall within affected areas of supply has resulted in high water consumption levels, which is placing a significant amount of stress on the system.

“The normal expected equitable water supply is 4370Ml/d, however the average consumption is 4900Ml/d. At 4370Ml/d, everyone has supply and in the past few months, we have been operating at this demand level. The current demand at 4900Ml/d is 530Ml/d more than what is required; this is unsustainable and will result in water supply interruptions.

"Rand Water is now implementing restrictions to various areas in our network to bring down the demand. This is aimed at ensuring equitable supply and system stability,” said Rand Water spokesperson Justice Mohale.

Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu will brief the media on urgent measures to address water challenges across the country on Monday, 28 October 2019.

She will be joined by senior officials from Rand Water and Gauteng municipalities.

The Star

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