'The planning for this was bad': Water problems are not over in parts of Johannesburg as the system recovers

‘The planning for this was bad’: Water problems are not over in parts of Johannesburg as the system recovers

  • Restoration of water in parts of Johannesburg could take up to two weeks.
  • This follows 58 hour shutdown for planned maintenance.
  • Residents vented their frustration on social media.

It could take up to two weeks for water to flow through Johannesburg residents’ taps again after a 58-hour water cut ends for planned maintenance on Friday afternoon.

Some people have taken to social media to complain, but Rand Water says the water supply is not the same as the electricity supply. It’s not as simple as flipping a switch.

“When the power comes back on after a power outage, one can flick a switch, and the light comes back on almost instantly. Water, on the other hand, is supplied through a long series of pipelines. If the tank goes down or becomes empty, like most during a shutdown, Sometimes it takes days and weeks to restore this storage.

During the outage, Randwater has undertaken several projects to ensure that it has the capacity to meet the future needs of the municipalities to which it supplies. The bulk water supplier takes water from the Vaal River Integrated System, purifies it and distributes it to its reservoirs. Municipalities then draw water from these reservoirs to supply residents and businesses.

Closing started at 19:00 on Tuesday. Residents in some areas of Soweto reported no water that night.

Johannesburg was worst affected by the outage, which affected Soweto, Langlagti, Southdale, Randburg, Roodepoort, Orange Farm, Ennerdale, Johannesburg South, CBD and all surrounding areas.

On Wednesday morning, the Honey Tower and Reservoir were at low levels.

watch | Cutting off the water is great, but it won’t make a difference to residents if the municipalities don’t do their part

By Thursday evening, there was no water in many areas, especially those provided by the Eikenhof Booster station. Boosters are pumps that drive water from randwater into the municipal grid.

On Friday afternoon, the entity said that the repairs, which were supposed to be completed at 05:00 that morning, had finally been completed.

It reported water returning in Rosebank, Dunkeld West, Oakden, Kenilworth and parts of Soweto.

challenges along the way

But maintenance hasn’t been without hiccups, which means that water problems for many residents are expected to last longer than expected.

She added, “As this was one of the largest planned maintenance shutdowns, it faced challenges, as would be expected for operations of this size.”

Repairs at the Zwartkopjes Booster Station took six hours longer than expected. Water came back on in the CBD and South Johannesburg only on Wednesday instead of Tuesday at 19:00. This adds six hours to System Restore, which is set for Monday at 19:00. Water should now be restored in this area by Tuesday 01:00.

24% of the water that was supposed to be pumped from the Eikenhof Booster Station stopped on Wednesday night. This affected the regions of Soweto and Lenacia. The system was empty by Thursday.

The residents of the area revolted, being held hostage by the water tankers.

The tankers were filling up at the Riverlea depot in Randburg but had to be rerouted to Braamfischerville.

Residents were concerned that the trucks were taking water from their area to spill over elsewhere.

Environmental and Infrastructure Services MMC Jack Sekwaila said he had to ask MMC Mgcini Tshwaku Public Safety to intervene. The trucks have been running since Thursday evening.

Skwila added that the electric current in some areas was interrupted during maintenance work, which led to the cessation of ground pumping in some places in the city.

Read also | The second voyage at the pumping station leaves Pretoria east without water

Full recovery of the Eikenhof system can take up to two weeks.

During this time, residents may have access to water, others may have low pressure, and some will not have access to water for days.

Rand Water said the Commando system, which supplies Horstell, Brixton and Crosby water tanks and towers, will take longer to recover.

The area is always the first to encounter problems during a Rand Water outage. This is because it is high rise with multi-storey buildings and its population exceeds the old infrastructure.

Most networks in the city are based on gravity. As the tanks fill up, residents in low-lying areas will use the water when it returns to the taps. But if the pressure is low because the tank is not full yet, there is not enough pressure for the water to flow upwards. Should an overuse of water occur, reservoirs take a long time to recover and will leave residents in higher elevations without water until this happens.

Squela said he expects reduced stress or outages on Friday night as residents return home. But he was confident of an overnight rebound of smaller reservoirs.

fed up

Residents expressed their outrage on social media.

A woman from Johannesburg said the message was not delivered properly.

“Randwater should have reported that after the whole system shut down, the water wouldn’t be restored immediately after 05:00. People assumed it would come back on. Then they communicated otherwise. And why are we struggling to find water tankers?

A man in Northriding complained that he went to bed on Thursday with no electricity or water.

He said:

I have a small child. It makes me realize that government is taking hard-working citizens for a ride.

Another woman asked why Florida North had problems with its water tower when it was a low area.

Another seemed to have had enough: “I know you’re very proud of yourselves for completing your maintenance on time, but the planning for that was poor. How do you expect people to not get water for five to 14 days and be okay?”

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