Joburg Water supply expected to be fully restored by weekend: Mayor

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Johannesburg Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda says the water levels are steadily improving, and he anticipates that the remaining water systems will have recovered by the end of the weekend.

He was speaking during a media briefing called by Johannesburg Water to give an update on the water supply interruptions that have hit the city since Monday last week.

Large parts of Johannesburg were left without water following a power outage that impacted the Eikenhof water pumping station over a week ago. Many affected areas have since recovered, and residents have been able to access water from their taps.

Gwamanda has assured residents that water will be fully restored by the weekend.

He says the water levels in the city’s reservoirs have improved.

“The system has built capacity, and reservoir levels are steadily stabilizing and getting to what we call acceptable levels. Councillors were appraised of the progress of our technical teams. Throughout today and over the weekend, it is projected that more areas will recover.”

Among those affected by the water supply interruptions are schools and healthcare facilities, as well as old age homes.

Johannesburg Water Managing Director Ntshavheni Mukwevho says it takes time for the reservoirs and towers to recover once they run dry.

“It takes time for the system to build up. In that process, a lot of technical work has been done, which involves flushing the air out of the system because once the system is empty, the air gets into the system. So that we can be able to build up the pressure.”

Some residents had to dig deeper into their pockets to buy water to have enough for bathing, cooking, and drinking. About 35 of the planned 60 water trucks were deployed to supply water to communities, but this was far too little to assist desperate residents.

Johannesburg Water Operation Manager, Logan Munsamy, acknowledges that water tankers are only a temporary solution.

“Water tankers are a mitigating plan; they are not there to replace your tap water in your house. Its stopgap measure is used when the portable system has interruptions. It is not possible to send the water tanker to each and every house, but we try to locate them as conveniently as possible.”

Johannesburg Water says they have a serious challenge regarding aging infrastructure, leaks, and high demand caused by the hot weather. Managing Director Ntshavheni Mukwevho says they need substantial investment to resolve this.

“We have a challenge of backlog; we should have been investing at a higher pace than what we have invested. Currently, we have a backlog of about R27 billion. So these are the infrastructures that we should have brought or replaced in terms of those infrastructures that are existing.”

Gwamanda has apologised to the public and has vowed to ensure the city improves its communication with consumers.

Report by Simphiwe Mabhena