How a power outage at Eikenhof pump station affects Joburg's water supply

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Residents fill buckets from a water tank in Tsakane during a recent water outage.
Residents fill buckets from a water tank in Tsakane during a recent water outage.
Gallo Images/OJ Koloti
  • There was another power outage at the Eikenhof pump station.
  • The station feeds into a wide water network, which affects large parts of Johannesburg.
  • Although the station is operational again, it takes days for the water system to recover. 

Rand Water has suffered another power failure at its Vereeniging purification works, which will impact the supply of water in Johannesburg.

The City's water entity, Joburg Water, said on Monday that the power failure had impacted the Eikenhof pump station for a few hours.

The CEO of Rand Water, Sipho Mosai, previously told News24 that a power trip at any of its facilities, even for just a few moments, would interrupt the system for around four hours.

In a notice on Monday, Joburg Water said: "After an incident, such as a power failure, full recovery can take up to five to seven days on average, provided there are no other issues that arise that will affect the system."

Rand Water purifies water, and Joburg Water purchases the clean water and distributes it to residents and businesses.

The outage at Eikenhof has affected the Commando system, comprising the Brixton, Hursthill and Crosby reservoirs, and the Waterval, Quellerina, Eagles Nest and Crown Gardens systems.

The outage also left Rand Water's Meredale reservoirs and Joburg Water's Waterval 2 reservoir empty.

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The Eikenhof pump station has recovered, but the system is still batting to fill the reservoirs.

The Crown Gardens reservoir has been opened to 50% capacity, so that Joburg Water can pump water into the tower to supply water to the area.

Water, which usually goes into the Eagles Nest reservoir, has been put straight into reticulation.

Water to the Weltevreden reservoir has been bypassed to push excess water into the Waterval reservoir, which will feed into the Quellerina and Waterval towers, as well as the Commando system.

The Quellerina and Waterval zones should be recovered by late Monday evening, Joburg Water said.

According to the entity, the Commando system is the most affected - and the Joburg Water technical team is working around the clock to improve water supply.

READ | Durban among several KZN areas facing water crisis as load shedding downs infrastructure

The Commando system supplies the inner city and is usually the first to suffer outages because of the growing population and because of the height of the area.

When the reservoirs are empty or do not have enough water, the pressure drops and this affects communities higher up on the ridge and those living in multi-story buildings.

Joburg Water is looking at interventions to improve the recovery period to the Hursthill 1 system, which includes linking Hursthill 1 with a neighbouring reservoir system.

But Joburg Water customers are still affected by low water pressure.

The City has a contingency plan to supply critical areas with water.

Stationery water tanks have been deployed in these areas:

• Crosby - one stationary water tank at the Crosby clinic;

• Brixton - one stationary water tank at 1 Rus Road;

• Brixton - two stationary water tanks at the Brixton Recreation Centre;

• Coronationville - one stationary water tank at the Coronation Recreation Centre;

• Coronationville - one stationary water tank at the Slovo Informal Settlement;

• Westdene - one stationary water tank at the Engen Garage;

• Melville - one stationary water tank at corner First Avenue and Main Road; and

• Melville - one stationary water tank at corner Seventh Street and Second Avenue.

There are also roaming water tankers in the following areas:

• Robertsham;

• Westbury;

• Coronationville;

• Newclare;

• Jan Hofmeyer;

• Mayfair West;

• Crosby; and

• Westdene.

Last week, Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu held a meeting with executive mayors and a proxy from three metropolitan municipalities and other municipalities to come up with solutions to the water issues in the province.

The meeting was called after several power outages at the Eikenhof pump station resulted in parts of the province being without water.

Rand Water is moving towards its own renewable energy to prevent outages, which are not linked to load shedding, because the station is now exempt.

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