05 September 2016 - The National Department of Water Affairs has issued out a directive to different municipalities to reduce the use of water. This instruction came through Rand Water for 15% reduction. Rand Water itself will start by reducing the municipality’s (ELM) main supply points immediately.
The areas serviced by low level reservoir may not be affected negatively as reservoir level may not drop immediately. However, water flow shall be lower than normal pressures especially during peak times. During these periods (peak times) the areas serviced by high level Reservoirs, will experience very low pressures in some areas. ELM remains concerned about areas where the pressure level drops to a ‘no flow’ level.
Areas serviced from Rand Water directly will experience lower pressures and flow in general, especially during low pressure and low volumes during peak take off times.
Having noted this, water restrictions measures to the public, will be implemented through the Minister of Water Affairs and Sanitation, if she declares the Vaal River Catchment area as a drought area.
Poor water infrastructure
Rapid urbanisation is one of the major causes of leaking infrastructure. When residential areas were developed, they were serviced with infrastructure for low to medium housing density. Since 1994 significant housing developments have taken place in the region. In many instances, the existing infrastructure is inadequate. One of the factors compounding the problem, and the lack of capacity, is the high levels of non-payment and subsequent high levels of internal plumbing leakages. The internal plumbing leakage impacts directly on the sewage treatment plants. Despite several upgrades on all the sewage treatment plants in the past few years, the municipality is now embarking on the construction of an R 800million regional sewage treatment plant to address the capacity problems in the area. This is being implemented by the National Dept of Water and Sanitation through Rand Water.
In some instances, aging and malfunctioning infrastructure is failing due to the type of infrastructure or technology used then. Areas that have asbestos cement pipes, in particular the Vereeniging area, have regular pipe burst as these networks cannot cope with the movements in the soil due to seasonal movements taking place on temperature and also water subsurface water content. Long term solutions are being sought in conjunction with Provincial and National Departments.
Reduction of water losses
Emfuleni Local Municipality has been plagued by number of water losses due to the collapsing aging water infrastructure. The municipality is prioritizing to replace all burst/ruptured/damaged pipes first. This will be followed by major repairs leaks and repairs on smaller leaks at water meters, valves and hydrants. Emfuleni has also appointed contractors to will assist in dealing with the backlogs on minor leaks. This is going to start per suburb in those suburbs with the most leaks. This is expected to be rolled out from beginning October 2016. This will also include assisting with the implementation of new water connections, to eliminate illegal connections.
The municipality has applied for funding from Department of Water Affairs to assist in the sealing of reservoirs in Sharpeville, Three Rivers and Vanderbijlpark. Various Pressure Reducing Valves were installed in these areas to maintain that operating pressures in networks. This will ensure that spillages do not spike, especially during low take off to ensure that pipe bursts are minimized, and losses with leaks in homes is also limited due to lower pressures.
Rand Water on the other hand, in Sebokeng and Evaton areas has started a campaign to teach the consumers on the sparingly use of water in their homes. Taps, basin seals in homes are replaced to ensure water losses at source is also minimized.
The need for rainfall
Rainfall is important for new inflow to ensure the supply of potable water to communities served by Rand Water and also to curb the growth of algae downstream.
Currently the Vaal Dam as at 01 Sept 2016 was at 33.2 %. The level of the Vaal Dam at around the same time in 2015 was above 60%. When the Level of 30% is reached the Vaal Dam supply scheme is augmented by the Sterkfontein Dam system for emergency water supply.
The Vaal Dam outflow is ±15 m3/s and the outflow at Barrage is ±10 m3/s. The lower flow of water and during this period of the year with low inflows from rain and higher temperatures have the effect that algae thrives due to organic pollutants from sewerage, industrial and agricultural waste.
There is an urgent need for sustained rainfall to alleviate the negative impacts of a drought.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Mr. Stanley Gaba
Acting Manager: Comms