With some used to frequent water cuts, urban farmers in Gauteng are making use of JoJo tanks to irrigate their crops after a water shutdown in the province.
The taps in some parts of the province have been turned off since Tuesday, 11 July. According to a notice by Johannesburg Water, the Rand Water shutdown will be completed at 05:00 on Friday, 14 July 2023. However, recovery might take even longer.
For urban food producers like rooftop farmer Sibongile Cele, this is a serious challenge. She farms in Comptonville, south of Johannesburg.
“Thank God that we have managed to store water. We have harvested water and put it into JoJo tanks to water our plants and crops.
“For other farmers, I’ll advise them to do the same because that is how we will manage to save water by storing it in Jojo tanks. We were fortunate to have winter rains recently, which has increased our water storage,” Cele added.
Water cuts are nothing new
Nomsa Mncube, a rooftop crop farmer in Alexandra, said water cuts are not a new occurrence in her area. Over the years, they have become used to water shutdowns. She said storing water in Jojo tanks has helped them through the tough times.
Despite prior notice from Johannesburg Water allowing her to prepare, Mncube said the water cuts have become too frequent and are not a welcomed norm.
“We’ll have a hard knock, but the only thing we’re trying to do is fill up water tanks, get extra bottles, and fill up as much as we can.
“We are trying to do as much as we can with what we have, which has been unfortunate because we need this water. So, it is tough for us,” Mncube said.
The farmer believes she has stored enough water to get her through another day of water cuts.
Prepared for the worst
Meanwhile, rooftop farmer Zandile Kumalo has not been affected by the city’s cuts and said production on her farm has continued undisturbed, thanks to her closed-loop irrigation system.
Kumalo explained that this means any excess water not utilised by the plants is recycled and reused.
“When establishing a hydroponic farm, it is essential to have a water capacity that can sustain you for at least three days.
“In my case, I utilise 1000 litre storage tanks, which can provide me with water for four days or longer,” she said.
Kumalo added that systems like the grow medium-bed system, which she utilised for cultivating baby spinach, only require irrigation twice a day. By employing this system, she is able to preserve water more effectively and extend its usability for up to a week.
Latest update on water cuts
As of Wednesday morning, 12 July, the following progress has been made:
Daleside Booster Pump Station: Ennerdale, Orange Farm and Lawyley areas. The work has been completed according to the scheduled eight hours. Supply to all the areas is normalising.
Zwartjkopjes Booster Pump Station: Johannesburg South and CBD. Reservoirs in this pump station still have some capacity but are taking a downward direction. Once work is completed, it is estimated that recovery will take five days.
Eikenhof Booster Pump Station: Greater Randburg and Roodepoort areas. This is the system that is most affected. All the towers and some reservoirs are empty. The recovery of this system will take up to ten days once work has been completed.
Eikenhof Booster Pump Station: Soweto, south of Johannesburg and Lenasia. The work is currently in progress. The Soweto reservoir and towers still have capacity. The Lenasia and South reservoirs are very low to empty. Recovery of the system will take up to ten days.
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