City of Johannesburg has a plan to fix water woes

  • The people in charge of Johannesburg have a plan to make sure there is enough water for the future.
  • It involves a series of technical interventions like building new reservoirs, managing customer demand and fixing old pipes.
  • Johannesburg has a R27 billion infrastructure backlog.

Despite what Executive Mayor Kabelo Gwamanda says, the city of Johannesburg has a water problem.

Due to widespread degradation of public infrastructure and an inability for local government to ramp up production to fit a growing demand, Joburg’s reservoirs are at around 30 percent capacity.

This follows several weeks of water shortages across the city’s regions following an accident that befell a key electrical distribution centre. While residents have called the situation a crisis, local government seems unphased, at least in its official communications.

But the city has a plan to improve the situation. At least that is according to Gwamanda, who met with the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu on Tuesday. The mayor was updating the minister on the metro’s plans to fix the current situation around water infrastructure.

According to a statement from the Department of Water and Sanitation, Johannesburg has a “wide-ranging plan on immediate, medium to long-term measures to ensure sustainability of supply.”

This plan includes:

  • Refurbishing existing water infrastructure such as pumping stations and reservoirs,
  • Upgrading old reservoirs and pump stations and building new ones,
  • Technical interventions like replacing water pipes, and repairing leaks,
  • Removal of illegal connections and wasteful water devices,
  • and implementing more demand management interventions to get Johannesburg residents to use less water.

According to the department, some of these projects are already in some way being implemented, while others still need funding to begin. Currently, the City of Johannesburg needs R27 billion to meet its infrastructure backlog. In comparison, all of Gauteng has a budget of R37 billion for all the province’s infrastructure needs.

During the meeting it was agreed upon that Johannesburg would do what it could with the money it had on hand already.

“We are pleased that the system has started to pick up, but still generally low. It is evident that there is hard work happening on the ground, focusing on areas that are hard hit,” enthused Mchunu, clearly happy with the city’s future plans.

“There are areas that have been severely affected and others for several days, but given the pace there is going to be stability. We sympathise with residents as the intermittent water supply continues, but we want to assure them that the City has committed to attend to various hotspots that are characterised by water shortages for number of days,” he added.

Mchunu said that it was clear that Johannesburg needs “serious interventions and funding.”

Meanwhile, Gwamanda has put other interventions in place to maintain city infrastructure, including setting aside R100 million so that the city can secure more electricity sources for its water pumping locations.

[Image – Photo by David Becker on Unsplash]


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