Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, has pleaded with residents of Gauteng to reduce their water consumption as the water supply remains vulnerable to disruptions and may not be able to meet demand, resulting in shortages.
Johannesburg and its surrounds have been hit by severe water cuts so far in 2023, and while water interruptions have been happening for years, they have been scaled up dramatically in recent weeks.
The deteriorating situation recently forced the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, to intervene.
On 27 September, he announced a new initiative called “water-shifting” to deal with the shortages.
Yesterday, in Parliament, Mchunu urged residents in Gauteng to limit their water consumption as the relationship between supply and demand is “very tight”.
“The system is vulnerable to disruptions caused by heavy load-shedding, electromechanical breakdowns or theft of cables,” Mchunu said.
“Usually, such breakdowns would not have a noticeable effect on water supply due to the ability to draw on reserve supply capacity. But now, there is no reserve supply capacity.”
Mchunu said that because water is gravity-fed from reservoirs to households, high-lying areas are the worst affected.
Demand for water in Gauteng has grown rapidly as its population has grown, and very little investment has been made to increase water supply.
Furthermore, up to 50% of the water from the bulk supplier, in this case, Rand Water, is lost before it reaches the end consumer due to leakages and other infrastructure failures.
Recently, Rand Water COO Mahlomola Mehlo said that water supply during the festive season cannot be guaranteed.
Mehlo explained that water supply is based upon the resource’s abstraction, purification, and distribution. All three are dependent on electricity.
If the electricity supply cannot be guaranteed, neither can the water supply to all areas.
Rand Water has plans to mitigate the effects of power outages, and its facilities are exempt from load-shedding.
The main problem is its old infrastructure, which is deteriorating and making it increasingly difficult to get water to the end consumer.
Mehlo stressed that this is a countrywide issue and not unique to Rand Water.
“If you consider all the variables at play and those that we have to manage and keep in check, at any given time, one of those variables can fail us,” Mehlo said.
“The incidents of the recent weeks have shown us that there are no guarantees in the provision of water, especially during this period. What I can guarantee is every effort is being made to ensure that we do not experience such.”
The areas most likely to be affected will be the high-lying parts of Gauteng as they require boosting stations to pump water up to them, making them more vulnerable to infrastructure failure and reliant on reliable electricity.
In short, there is no water shortage as the country’s dams are full. The issue is the inability to get water from bulk suppliers to the end consumer.
Read the full original article by Shaun Jacobs on Daily Investor on Daily Investor here.