Water and Sanitation minister Senzo Mchunu says the three-day (54-hour) water shutdown in Gauteng is a result of planned maintenance work on the pipelines. Mchunu assured Gauteng residents that during the shutdown, there will be water supply.
Last week, Rand Water announced that it had notified affected municipalities of the planned maintenance of B11 and B19 pipelines to allow them to execute their appropriate contingency plans during the maintenance period and ensure continued supply, though reduced.
Addressing the media in Pretoria on Monday, Mchunu said the maintenance will affect a number of municipalities resulting in a low supply of water.
“The term ‘shutdown’ was not in the literal sense, but was rather a technical term used in the industry - and did not mean that there will be no water coming out of the taps,” Mchunu said.
In addition to the planned maintenance work by Rand Water, there are a number of other areas in the country which have been and are currently experiencing water shortages in the form of intermittent supply or areas where projects are underway with little to no progress.
“The eThekwini Metro water situation in Durban is fairly stable, except for some areas that are known to experience intermittent supply. Supply interruptions in these areas are mainly due to demand exceeding supply as is the case throughout the country. Overall, eThekwini Metro has a challenge of aging infrastructure. This is resulting in frequent failures in some areas,” Mchunu said.
Averting ‘Day Zero’ in Gqeberha
Mchunu commended Umgeni and eThekwini Metro on their efforts in ensuring the maintenance of infrastructure and pledged support to them. Mchunu also mentioned Ggeberha in the Eastern Cape as one of the provinces experiencing water problems.
“We have been informed of the challenges in Gqeberha, as a result of the decreasing dam levels caused by an increase in demand. In order to address this, we need to realise the completion of the Nooitgedacht Water Scheme which we are attending to,” Mchunu said.
Mchunu said in order to avert ‘Day Zero’ and work towards water security in the area and country as a whole, compliance to water restrictions needs to be emphasised and adhered to.
In the meantime, the affected areas in the western side of the metro will be supported by tanks and tankers as there will be a reduced water supply of about 25% as and when needed.
“We are working tirelessly to ensure that we deliver quality water and sanitation services to all the citizens of the country and this will require the concerted efforts of government, the private sector, civil organisations and citizens,” Mchunu said.
The minister also called on citizens to use water sparingly. “The water that we have now is less but that does not mean there is a water crisis,” Mchunu said.
Rand Water's three-day shutdown came into effect on Monday morning. The water utility said it is doing maintenance on pipes supplying the Vereeniging purification plant.