Another blow to Joburg – R120 billion needed

 ·23 Mar 2023

It will cost roughly R120 billion to fix the City of Joburg’s water infrastructure, says Zakhele Khuzwayo, the manager for innovation and technology at Joburg Water.

Speaking to ENCA, Khuzwayo said that old infrastructure that should have been replaced years ago has not and recent equations point to it costing R120 billion to fix.

According to Khuzwayo, the cost of repairing the infrastructure is steadily increasing every year. In one financial year, the cost rose significantly from roughly R103 billion in 2021/22 to the current R120 billion.

The city has faced periodic water outages, exacerbated by rolling blackouts. On 22 March, Johannesburg Water said that water systems across the city show low levels of improvement dispite constant monitoring.

Residents have been called on to observe ‘level – 1’ water restrictions which prohibit the use of hosepipes to water gardens, wash cars, clean driveways, fill pools or water features between 06h00 and 18h00.

“This is to ensure that systems are kept stable throughout the coming months,” said Johannesburg Water.

Almost daily, Johannesburg Water reports interrupted water supply cases as a result of either planned maintenance or unplanned bursts. The city allocated R930 million last year to try and repair infrastructure, including:

  • A R93 million pipe replacement programme;
  • R127 million was allocated to repairing leaks;
  • R30 million was allocated to a new Crosby pump station;
  • R240 million was allocated to repairs at the Brixton reservoir and pump station.

According to the former City mayor, Johannesburg Water has already replaced over 100 kilometres of pipes across the city; however, much more is still required.

Suburbs across Johannesburg South are currently facing water outages as a result of power outages at Joburg Water’s bulk supplier Rand Water on Monday (20 March) that affect the ability to pump water.

Johannesburg Water said that suburbs, including Brixton, Hursthill, and Crosby, have all been affected.

It added that the situation is, however, likely to improve as of this Thursday (23 March) – the water utility has also resorted to placing water tankers across affected areas to provide some level of relief.

Load shedding is the main culprit of many water outages as it affects water pumps and vital pipelines. In January, the City of Joburg said that areas which experience four hours or more of load shedding would experience reduced water pressure.

Despite there being reservoirs that have stored water to last short interruptions, they rely on a continuous pumped flow to maintain levels and be prepared for outages – all of which require electricity.

In response to such outages, some cities have pleaded to have their water infrastructure networks exempt from load shedding.

Read: Alarm bells ringing for middle class and wealthy South Africans

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