Push for more load shedding exemptions

 ·19 Oct 2022

The City of Joburg says it is trying to get its water utility, Johannesburg Water, exemption status for load shedding after persistent blackouts caused infrastructure to fail, exacerbating the city’s water crisis.

New Joburg mayor Sello Morero said that Rand Water experienced a power failure at its Vereeniging water works in late September, resulting in a 50% reduction in bulk water supply to the Eikenhof pump station.

The failure had a knock-on effect on several other stations and networks, leaving some areas without water.

City Power supplies the power to Joburg Water and is working with the utility to ensure that water supply is not interrupted. The power utility said that it is trying to exempt Joburg Water from load shedding to do this.

“One of the things we are looking at is to see how to exclude them from load shedding. The problem currently is that most of Joburg Water facilities are embedded within our network, making it difficult to exempt them. We are also looking at partnering with them on the off-grid solutions,” it said.

The Department of Health recently announced a list of hospitals that have been exempted from load shedding after lobbying from public and private health groups who said that the blackouts were putting lives at risk.

There have been other efforts for exemption status. The City of Cape Town requested that its pumping stations and sewage plants be exempted – a request which was rejected. Major metros have warned that continued load shedding not only disrupts water supply but does significant damage to equipment and infrastructure, exacerbating the problems.

These hospitals are now exempt from load shedding in South Africa

Water crisis

Major Gauteng metros, including the cities of Joburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni, are in the midst of stage 2 water restrictions, where 30% of the water supply from Rand Water has been cut.

Due to residents not heeding the call to reduce water consumption, Rand Water has implemented flow controls, which allows it to reduce supply intermittently, not needing to rely on end-user compliance with water restrictions.

The cities have urged residents to reduce their water consumption, with the City of Tshwane noting this week that it is continuing to experience week-on-week high water consumption by residents and businesses despite the city’s series of requests to residents to use water sparingly to avert a situation where there is no water supply at all.

“A number of areas continue to exceed consumption levels, ignoring Rand Water’s directive,” it said, highlighting problems in the following areas:

  • Akasia
  • Constantia
  • Ga-Rankuwa
  • Garsfontein
  • Hatherley
  • Kosmosdal
  • Laudium
  • Mabopane
  • Mamelodi
  • Pretoria Central
  • Soshanguve

Morero urged residents and businesses in Johannesburg to work with the City to reduce water usage. He said that there are other innovative ways that could be utilised to avoid wasting clean, fresh water.

These can include rainwater harvesting and boreholes. He said that the City wants to raise capital to replenish the ageing infrastructure.

Ekurhuleni warned that its reservoirs are critically low due to high levels of consumption, with the Central Reservoir completely empty.

“The public is reminded of the prohibition of irrigation between 07h00 and 17h00, and stringent enforcement of water supply by-laws regarding illegal connections, water use, and any other water-related contravention,” it said.

Read: An economy with no electricity is destined to collapse, says Mantashe – as South Africa hits day 141 of load shedding

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