‘Water is a right, not a luxury’: Joburg residents suffering outages take fight to the City

'Water is a right, not a luxury': Joburg residents suffering outages take fight to the City
'Water is a right, not a luxury': Joburg residents suffering outages take fight to the City

Africa-Press – South-Africa. Members of the Southern Suburbs Community Forum picketed on Wednesday outside the Johannesburg Water Southdale Depot after suffering water outages daily for the last six weeks.

Residents in Region F, which includes high-density areas in the city centre, and Johannesburg South, are usually the first to suffer when there are water issues at the pump stations and reservoirs.

On Tuesday, Rand Water’s Eikenhof purification plant experienced a pump failure, resulting in 200 megalitres of water being lost and reduced flow from Johannesburg Water infrastructure for five hours.

Rand Water purifies water from the Integrated Vaal River System and pumps it to municipal reservoirs. Johannesburg Water purchases the clean water for Johannesburg and reticulates it to homes and businesses.

Rand Water has suffered several electrical outages over the last few months.

When the pumps stop working at Eikenhof, Rand Water is unable to continue the flow of water to its reservoirs.

Meanwhile, customers continue to consume water from the reservoirs and the water levels drop.

As a result, various Johannesburg Water systems have been impacted, including Region B, C, F, and small portions of Region D, which comprise the following systems:

A large part of Region F sits on top of the highest point in the city and consists of high-rise buildings.

When the reservoirs drop it affects water pressure and those in high-lying areas struggle to get enough water pressure to transport water to their homes. And, as the area is densely populated and the reservoirs have not expanded with the growing population, the reservoir cannot fill up as customers use the water.

A Fordsburg resident, who asked not to be named, complained she had had interrupted water since the middle of January.

She said there was no water in the taps from around 09:30, and it only returned from 18:00. She lives in a high-rise building on a hill.

“Our street (Crown Road) is problematic, so is Jerome Street, it’s scattered across the area. Because we have an interrupted water supply, I make sure I fill up with water in the morning so I can drink and flush the toilets.

“There is a shop owner nearby who allows the community to use his borehole. Sometimes, I go to family’s homes to shower. The water tanker [supplied by the city in problem areas] is too far to walk to, especially with a bucket.”

The woman was part of a contingency which door-stopped Mayor Thapelo Amad last Wednesday.

According to councillor Rickey Nair from Ward 58 – which includes Fordsburg, Fietas, Mayfair, the Slovo informal settlement, Mayfair West and Crosby – around 60 residents went to the city chambers and sat there until the mayor spoke to them.

Amad was given 120 days to come up with a solution, including generators, according to residents.

Nair said the ward suffered because it was experiencing “water shedding”.

“It’s been going on for about six weeks, but it has got better.

“The commando system is one of the oldest in the city. Long term, there are plans to build more infrastructure, but for now it is being shut down [periodically] to try and build up its capacity.”

Nair said:

On Wednesday, members from the Southern Suburbs Community Forum gathered outside the depot.

A notice by the forum stated, “the passive approach of reporting and praying for the water” was not working, and “fitting JoJo [tanks] and [drilling] boreholes [are not] within everyone’s reach”.

“We pay rates and taxes every month and will receive no rebate for using other sources of water. In future, we will likely pay for the water we are extracting out of the ground as well,” the notice by the forum read.

On Wednesday, Johannesburg Water said improvements gained at its reservoir and tower levels on Tuesday night had been quickly depleted during the day.

It gave the following infrastructure update:

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