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Monday, 01 July 2024 17:40

Rand Water defends its maintenance schedule as water woes continue.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Rand Water CEO Sipho Mosai has defended the entity's ongoing maintenance schedule, which has resulted in residents experiencing water cuts.

Rand Water has a planned maintenance which will take place from 22 June to 29 July 2024.

On Sunday,18 areas in the south of Johannesburg were affected as the entity replaced a meter at its South Hills Towers.

"Our maintenance is not driven by the political timetable, but our timetable in terms of asset management. Now because theoretically speaking, the demand drops," said Mosai.

"So, we're using this time to do all these repairs, and maintenance to ensure that when we get to the summer months, we have done it to meet the demand."

While the areas may be shut down at the same time, recovery time would, however, be different, said Mosai.

"The system is recovering, some areas will recover before the others, while others will recover later because when you take out a system, you completely empty the pipes and the reservoirs run low. We first have to fill the reservoirs to pump it," he explained.

"For those who have water, please use it sparingly."

As of 12pm on Monday, the Zwartkopjes Pump Station was running at 100% maximum capacity.

The Crown Gardens Reservoir made gains overnight and was at 79% capacity. It has been opened at 50% to gradually charge the system and supply the area.

Residents residing in low-lying areas within the reservoir zone are receiving water, while those in higher-lying areas will experience a combination of poor pressure to no water.

Pumping continued at the Crown Gardens Tower and was sitting at 45%. Residents in the tower zone are receiving normal water supply as the system undergoes recovery.

The Eagles Nest Reservoir was at 29% capacity and maintained some stability overnight. It was supplying fairly.

The water supply in Orange Farm and its surrounds was low due to the high demand for the Orange Farm Reservoir. It was sitting at 28%.

The Ennerdale and Lawley reservoirs also remained low due to the high water demand.

Meanwhile Pemmy Majodina has been appointed Water and Sanitation Minister, replacing Senzo Mchunu, who has been named as Police Minister, as the seventh administration is formed.

David Mahlobo retains his position as Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister, while Isaac Seitlholo replaces Judith Tshabalala, who moved to Deputy Minister of Mineral and Petroleum Resources.

Majodina enters the Ministry just as Mchunu - who was appointed in August 2021 when Ramaphosa separated the Ministry of Human Settlements from the Ministry of Water and Sanitation to enable a dedicated focus - was showing strong signs of tackling the years-long deterioration of South Africa’s water sector, which is fast becoming one of the biggest challenges facing the country.

Over the years, South Africa has experienced a myriad of well-documented and longstanding challenges, including underinvestment and a lack of funding for maintenance and new infrastructure development; delayed projects; inefficient use of water resources; leaks and wasted water; dysfunctional water and wastewater treatment plants; municipal underperformance; pollution and deteriorating ecosystems; illegal water use and abstractions; low water tariffs and growing municipal debt; increasing industrialisation; and increasing demand.

To mitigate some of these challenges, the former Water and Sanitation Minister led the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) through many changes, including the resuscitation of the Blue, Green and No Drop reports, the establishment of the National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency and Water Partnership Office, and key amendments to the National Water Act and Water Services Act Amendment Bills, besides others.

"Mchunu's performance has been exceptional, marked by significant achievements in water management and governance," said WaterCAN executive manager Ferrial Adam.

Along with the publication of the Green, Blue and No Drop reports and conducting sessions with municipalities to demand action – underscoring the importance of accountability – Mchunu amended crucial policies to ensure a more robust legal framework.

"His engagement with civil society and hands-on approach during crises demonstrated his commitment to transparency and responsiveness. Mchunu held water entities accountable, resulting in criminal charges against more than 14 municipalities. He appointed a professional top management team, revitalising the department after a decade of corruption and capture, and restored its functionality and integrity," Adam continued.

Majodina is expected to continue these efforts.

"Majodina must continue the work that Mchunu started, actively engaging with civil society and leveraging the expertise and experience within her team to build on these successes."

AfriForum added that the newly appointed Minister had a "huge task" ahead of her, with the DWS at a tipping point that requires strong leadership and continuity to tackle pressing issues effectively.

The civil rights organisation, which said it was ready to work with Majodina to resolve critical issues regarding South Africa's water and sanitation sector, believed that addressing the water crisis required swift and decisive action from all stakeholders involved and urged the new Minister to prioritise continuity in leadership and policy implementation, focus on municipal infrastructure and collaborative efforts for sustainable solutions.