Heatwave, load shedding blamed for Joburg's latest water woes

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People fill up buckets of water.
People fill up buckets of water.
Gallo Images/Fani Mahuntsi
  • Johannesburg could again see water outages because of a heatwave.
  • Joburg Water warned the water systems were "severely strained".
  • The bulk water supplier asked residents to use water only for critical purposes. 

Johannesburg Water warned residents the sustainability of its water supply was only dependent on water usage during the day.

This was after the bulk water supplier informed residents at the weekend that its water systems were "severely strained". 

The Hursthill system was especially vulnerable, and some high-lying areas might not have water.

The entity has since asked its customers to use water for critical needs only. 

In a message at the weekend, Joburg Water said its infrastructure was faced with challenges, including an increase in water demand due to the heatwave and load shedding.

On Monday, it reported minor improvements in water levels. 

READ | Water 'wars': Thirsty Free State residents torch municipal building, demand water

The entity described the water situation as follows:

  • Honeydew systems: Levels remain low at the reservoir, and the tower is stable;
  • Parktown 2 reservoir: Reservoir is stable;
  • Helderkruin systems: Low levels are noted at the reservoir. The tower levels have improved, and the system is stable at this time;
  • Linden systems: Linden reservoir is low, but stable. Linden tower is low;
  • Hursthill reservoirs: Both systems remain extremely low. Hursthill 2 reservoir is critically low. Customers in higher-lying areas will experience no water or poor pressure;
  • Brixton systems: The Brixton reservoir levels are low. The tower is stable, but dependent on fluctuating reservoir levels;
  • Horison Tower: The tower is stable; and
  • Load shedding is impacting on pumping into Quellerina and Northcliff towers. Pumps will resume at the end of the load shedding.

Joburg Water said it had noticed high water usage in the following areas:

  • Joburg South;
  • Joburg central;
  • Midrand;
  • Sandton;
  • Hamburg and Randburg;
  • Commando system (Brixton, Hursthill and Crosby);
  • Helderkruin;
  • Honeydew; and
  • Parktown

The entity reminded residents that Johannesburg was in a Level 1 water restriction, which had been in place since September and would continue until the cooler weather at the end of March.

Level 1 restrictions prohibit using a hosepipe or potable water to water gardens, fill swimming pools, wash cars and clean driveways etc. between 06:00 and 18:00. 

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High temperatures, in most of the country since the second week of January, have been especially severe in the Northern Cape.

Johannesburg suffered severe water restrictions last year after Rand Water, which purifies water from the Vaal Integrated System and sells it to Joburg Water, throttled its water supply in October. 

At the time, Rand Water said the heatwave had led to higher consumption, and the entity could not keep up with the demand. 

The restriction resulted in significant outages, sometimes for days, in high-lying areas.

Experts, however, said the issue was old and ageing infrastructure, which needed to be updated and could not keep up with the growing population's demand. 

The effect of load shedding on the pump stations worsened the situation. 

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