Eskom Theft Deepens Joburg Water Crisis

Posted in: Drinking Water News, Global Water News, Water Crisis
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Kaylene Fritz, 6, who lives in Westdene drinks water from a tanker after the suburb ran dry. Photo credi: Timothy Bernard

Article courtesy of Anna Cox | September 22, 2014 | IOL News | Shared as educational material

This will result in the northern parts of Joburg, Midrand and as far as Tshwane, being without water, possibly for the whole day.

Rand Water’s Godfrey Maumela, executive manager of bulk water, said the theft was discovered this morning and he had been told by Eskom that it would take up to four hours to repair.

The unrelated problems started last week, he said, when temperatures rose causing an increase in demand for water.

The Eikenhof pumping station experienced a power outage, he said, meaning that water could not be pumped into reservoirs and it then became difficult for the water levels to stabilise during periods of high demand.

“The Eikenhof reservoir is a critical one for the southern and south-western suburbs of Joburg and to parts of Ekurhuleni.

“The water levels were already very low when the outage happened. This resulted in Rand Water being unable to pump water to some of the municipal reservoirs,” he said.

Germiston, Benoni, Etwatwa, Daveyton and Tsakane were badly affected.

Eskom was initially blamed for the outage, but had denied responsibility.

“Eskom has engaged with both Joburg Water and City Power to resolve the matter, as this is in the jurisdiction of City Power. We would like to apologise for the misunderstanding and urge customers not to report this issue to the Eskom Contact Centre,” said Eskom spokesman Reneiloe Semenya.

Joburg Water said water tanks had been sent to affected areas, and spokeswoman Millicent Kabwe said water reservoir towers were showing good recovery.

“We are appealing to all residents to use water sparingly, because if the demand continues to increase the reservoirs and water towers are going to run very low resulting in no water in some areas,” she said.

The DA blamed Rand Water and City Power for the problems. Councillor David Potter said Rand Water, as a bulk-supplier of water to the City of Joburg and Ekurhuleni, did not see itself directly accountable to the residents and accused it of keeping residents and businesses in the dark.

“This highlights some very serious issues, such as the lack of back-up power provision in the system for bulk water and the lack of communication to the residents from bulk-suppliers to the city and on to the residents. It has to be recognised that we are in the middle of a serious crisis and we have hardly heard about it.

“The supply of water being a basic need to the residents should be given attention by the authorities and better emergency planning has to be introduced as a matter of urgency,” he said.

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