45‚000 leaks a year - Water outages a “big problem” for Johannesburg

This picture is being used for illustrative purposes only.
This picture is being used for illustrative purposes only.
Image: 123RF/Apichart Surachartmathin

While the City of Johannesburg scrambled to resolve a power outage caused by a fire at the Eikenhof electricity substation this week‚ water outages remain a constant concern for the municipality.

Monday’s substation fire affected suburbs across Johannesburg‚ as well as Rand Water. As a result‚ taps ran dry in parts of the city for a number of days‚ with some still without water on Thursday morning.

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said he suspected the fire was a result of sabotage and that he had opened a criminal case. The matter is being investigated by the police and the municipality’s forensic investigation services.

Last year‚ a burst pipeline under an unstable landfill in Linbro Park near Alexandra caused a water outage that lasted close to three days.

At the time‚ Mashaba said the infrastructure backlog his administration had inherited amounted to R170-billion. The city’s MMC for Environment and Infrastructure‚ Nico De Jager‚ said water outages remained a “big problem” for Johannesburg.

He added that the ageing electricity-supply infrastructure‚ which the city was in the process of refurbishing‚ also had an impact on water supply.

“Outages have increased from 35‚000 to 45‚000 a year as a result of ageing infrastructure‚” De Jager said.

Some outages‚ however‚ were due to the fact that Johannesburg Water had started refurbishing its water networks.

“We will be spending R900-million on capital projects‚ which include refurbishment and bringing in new infrastructure‚" De Jager said‚ adding that by the end of the current financial year‚ Johannesburg Water will have reduced pipe bursts by 6‚000.

“We are spending money on refurbishments more than ever before. We are positive that through the interventions we have‚ we will be dealing with the backlog‚ which is R12-billion.

“We have a committed team and we are confident that we will be able to reduce water outages by the end of this financial year. By the end of the financial year‚ we will also be able to see to what extent we were able to reduce outages.”

De Jager said the city was also in the process of refurbishing the power network as it impacted on water supply.

By Thursday morning‚ water had been restored to most areas that were affected by the Eikenhof fire.

“We are happy to say that most reservoirs have started pumping water‚ except Helderkruin and Lenasia‚ because of their proximity to the pumping station at Rand Water‚” De Jager said.

The distance between the two areas and the pumping station was delaying the restoration of water‚ he said.

“We are‚ as a result‚ battling to build capacity.” 

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