Gauteng urged to improve water supply management

Friday, September 29, 2023

The Water and Sanitation Ministry has called for improved water supply and management of water resources to ensure provision and reliability of supply in Gauteng.

Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister, David Mahlobo, said in as much as there are water supply challenges in some municipalities in Gauteng, there is a high availability of water in the province’s Integrated Vaal River System. 

Mahlobo said the bulk supplier of water to municipalities, Rand Water, is treating and supplying more water to municipalities than it used to. 

“There should not be a problem of water availability in Gauteng because some of the municipalities get more water than they are licensed to have. Rand Water is also abstracting and treating more water supplied to Gauteng municipalities than it used to. 

“However, there are high percentages of loss of water (non-revenue water) due to water leaks, illegal connections, ageing and vandalism of water infrastructure in municipalities. Water is therefore being lost before it can even reach the communities,” Mahlobo said.

Mahlobo also encouraged the municipalities to impose Level 1 water restrictions, especially on water consumers who use water for gardening and irrigation.   

Deputy Ministers, Mahlobo and Judith Tshabalala, and Rand Water Board Chairperson, Ramateu Monyokolo, this week interacted with the political leaders and councillors of the City of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality and City of Tshwane, on ways to resolve water supply issues in the municipalities.  

The two-day site visits by the ministry were aimed at assessing areas affected by water shortages in Gauteng metros.

The recent water supply challenges within some municipalities in Gauteng Province prompted Minister Senzo Mchunu, together with his two Deputy Ministers, to embark on a fact-finding mission on the three metros, including the City of Ekurhuleni, City of Tshwane and City of Johannesburg, which are the most affected municipalities with water shortages. 

The department said the main purpose of the visits was to establish the problems and the plans that the municipalities have to remedy the situation. 

On Tuesday, Mchunu met with the leadership of the City of Johannesburg and the communities of South Hills and Ebony Park, which are some of the areas that are also hardest hit by water shortages in recent weeks. 

The event led to a meeting held in the evening with various stakeholders to come up with immediate solutions to the situation.

On Wednesday, Mahlobo met with the leadership of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality and was informed that most areas do not have reliable water supply for a prolonged period. This led to the community of Makause informal settlement in Tsakane, to embark on a protracted protest action about lack of water in the area.

The department noted that lack of water is mainly due to intermittent power cuts that affect the reservoir pump stations to pump more water, and the low water levels of the water storage reservoirs in the city. 

“Brakpan reservoir, responsible for supplying water to Duduza, KwaThema and Tsakane, is at a low point of 35% instead of the required 60% - 70%. The low levels of the reservoirs affected water supply to most high-lying areas in the area,” the department said.
During a meeting with the councillors of Etwatwa Township in Ekurhuleni, Tshabalala also reiterated the problem of high percentages of water loss and sewer spillages in the municipality. 

She urged the councillors to prioritise issues of water and sanitation, warning that “when neglected, they amount to a violation of human rights to the community members of Ekurhuleni.”
Rand Water and the Municipalities have committed to work on an immediate water management plan, including implementing water-shifting, as an interim measure to stabilise the system of the storage reservoirs that are currently low. –