Dry taps have slowly become a painful reality for Gauteng residents and farmers based in and around metropolitan areas as municipalities introduce water shedding in the province. And as if life can’t get any worse, some Johannesburg suburbs are set to experience a total shutdown today.
The City of Johannesburg has implemented level 1 water restrictions with the aim of conserving water during dry spells, lowering the risks of shortages and promoting responsible water practices.
Shedding of another kind
Among the water restrictions imposed by Joburg Water, farmers and residents are not allowed to water their gardens or do any irrigation system during the time of 06:00-18:00. The water cuts are set to continue until March 2024.
“Joburg Water implements level 1 water restrictions to ensure that systems are kept stable throughout the coming hot months,” the statement said.
Rand Water takes water from the Vaal Integrated River System, purifies it, and distributes it to municipalities in Gauteng. Johannesburg Water purchases the bulk water and distributes it to residents.
According to Rand Water, the fault of poor infrastructure maintenance by municipalities is the cause of water shedding in most parts of Gauteng.
Rand Water spokesperson Makenosi Maroo said as a water supplier to the government, they are not to be blamed for any water restrictions, but rather, municipalities.
“Municipalities supply farmers and residents with water. Rand Water is a bulk supply and we supply water to municipalities. Rand Water is pumping at full capacity. We supply directly to a small number of customers which are mainly businesses,” she said.
In desperate need of help
Meanwhile, Maureen Chisane, a crop farmer on the West Rand in Johannesburg, said the water shortages have been her biggest challenge thus far, adding that the situation seems to be getting worse with each week.
“This side at West Rand it has been more than three months and it’s getting worse week by week. From 7 a.m. the water flow gets very low you can’t even irrigate and it’s disturbing our production, and it has become very bad. Our sales are dropping.
“It has impacted us very badly to that extent we came up with a mechanisation that we irrigate at night from 8 p.m. and we bought LED lights because the flow is better at night. Things are very bad to that extent our sales are not like before,” she added.
Chisane said she hoped the matter could be resolved quickly because she is afraid that she might not be able to last long with the continuous water cuts.
Water shortages are ‘nothing new’
Winterveldt Pretoria-based crop farmer Dineo Mphahlele said her water problems have been consistent for the last five years and she’s had to come up with solutions to make things easier for herself.
“When we enter spring, farmers in other areas around me do not struggle that much, but I would say on my side the state of water availability is worse,” she said.
She explained that through the use of a borehole, she has been able to irrigate her crops, but because of criminal activity in the area, parts of her borehole equipment were stolen, leaving her in a desperate situation.
“Municipal water in the area during the spring season is not available and it is very common. The taps run dry and we are kind of used to it, and the reality is that we should not be, but that is the situation we are faced with. Maybe there can be a solution to all of this,” she said.
Coming up with solutions
Alexandra urban crop farmer Wilson Mothiba explained that he has been having outages at least once a month for the past five months, along with low water pressure caused by infrastructure maintenance in his surrounding area.
He has come up with solutions to ease the pressure by storing water in JoJo tanks and maintaining reserves for irrigation.
“We use our drip irrigation system and rainfall water so we are hardly affected, especially in summer. We also mulch our crops to retain moisture to avoid droughts so that should we have issues, we are able to sort them out ensuring our plants receive water,” he said.
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