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SOWETAN | Maintain infrastructure to avoid crisis

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Image: Chris Van Lennep

At least 15 communities in Gauteng have not had water at different periods in the past four weeks. Those are just the ones we’ve counted.

The problem is much more prevalent. This is because of various reasons that ultimately come down to infrastructure that is poor and prone to breakdowns or lacks adequate capacity to cater for a growing urban population.

Scores of people queuing up at water tankers have become a familiar sight in many parts of the province and the country. This week, Jojina Kgantshi, a resident of Mabopane, told us, “For months, we have been receiving water at night only in our homes but since last week Wednesday, taps have been running dry.

I’m unable to wash and clean my house because we have to use the little that we get from the water tanker cautiously. ”Water outages at hospitals are common place, further compromising the often poor quality o fhealth care at public facilities. So serious is the situation that water and sanitation minister Senzo Mchunu held imbizos in parts of Gauteng this week.

His proposal? Water shifting, a practice which in theory will have Rand Water shift supply from one adequately resourced reservoir to one that needs a boost for a certain period and visa versa. Simply put, Rand Water is being asked, to divert water to neighbouring communities when one area has enough and another has run out.

As stated, in theory, it makes logical sense. But water expert Anthony Turton told this publication that our infrastructure is not geared toward supporting watershifting. He suggests that it may take some intricate work of engineering to achieve this object. Even then the proposal, he says, may be premised on conservative estimations of consumption in different areas, which may differ to the reality of in-migration.

Be that as it may, the intervention is welcome as an interim measure, provided it is functionally possible. However, it is only a stop gap to potentially minimise the impact of the problem in the short term. We need a permanent solution to our infrastructure crisis. It will take substantial investment, technical capacity and the political will to implement sustainable solutions.

 


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