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‘Helpless and forgotten’: Joburg residents fume after days without water

Planned maintenance is ‘on track’, but residents say there are not enough water trucks to service affected areas

Water disruptions in parts of Johannesburg continued into Thursday, where one resident was seen kneeling down and praying when a water tanker arrived in Newclare, west of the city.

“In a time such as this, when we as a community feel helpless and forgotten, it brought me joy knowing there are still people unashamed to call on God for help,” community member Melissa Davids told Sunday Times Daily, as scores of residents filled up bottles, buckets and cooler boxes.

Residents in Westbury, Coronationville, Westdene, Newclare and surrounds have been without water for the past four days.

This was due to a planned 54-hour Rand Water shutdown to allow the entity to bring into the system a new main line to ensure the city will have enough water after 2040.

During the shutdown, two valve rigs were installed in chambers cut into the pipes, while other work was done at the Vereeniging, Lethabo and Eikenhof pump stations.The valve rigs installed into the new water pipe that feeds eight Gauteng municipalities are 2.5m in diameter.

Rand Water said on Thursday it had successfully completed maintenance on pipelines that affected eight Gauteng municipalities.

Spokesperson Justice Mohale said the B11 raw water pipeline was supplying water to the Vereeniging Water Treatment Works (WTW).

The Vereeniging WTW had restored full supply to Rand Water’s Eikenhof pump station, he added.

“Several of Rand Water’s reservoirs are currently very low due to the recent completed maintenance programme and will take time to recover to full capacity.”

Mohale said Rand Water’s Meredale and Foresthill reservoirs were critically low.

“These low levels are having an impact on several municipal reservoirs within the Johannesburg water network. The current level of Foresthill reservoir is 0,58m and a head of 1,5m is required before water can be pumped from the Forest Hill tower.

“Full pumping supply to these reservoirs has been restored and Rand Water will provide Johannesburg Water with two-hourly updates on the status of these reservoir levels, until Johannesburg Water is able to start pumps from its Foresthill tower to supply water to the affected areas.”

They said on the news we shouldn’t fill the buckets [so there is less impact]. We didn’t and now we are without water. It is very frustrating.

Melissa Davids

Davids said her area, Coronationville, was still without water and there were not enough water trucks coming to the area.

“People [residents] are asking when the water trucks are going to come, but not even the councillors know because they also don’t have water. You are very lucky when you see a water truck,” she said, adding that they had been without water since Monday and it had become “extremely frustrating”.

“They said on the news we shouldn’t fill the buckets [so there is less impact]. We didn’t and now we are without water. It is very frustrating.

“The sun is blazing, we have no water and have to run after water trucks. I have to help elderly ladies collect water. There is a 96-year-old living in the area who has no kids, no one to assist her to collect water,” she said.

“Joburg Water said they fixed what they needed to fix, the councillors said it’s not their problem, so whose problem is it then?”

Westbury resident Lester Jacobs also described the situation as dire. 

“It is very frustrating because my neighbour is 98, so how does she cope? What about the elderly?

“My child can’t go to school because we don’t have water and the school does not have water, so it’s unhygienic.”

Jacobs added that water trucks only stopped in certain areas, leaving others high and dry.

“We don’t even know if the water from the water trucks is drinkable or not, so we just have to do the basics with the water.

“The truck stops at one end of the area [Westbury], so the entire community will then have to rush there to collect water. But what about your elderly people? How do they expect them to walk so far to collect water and walk back?

“Sometimes you will get to the water truck only to find it empty. It’s a mission and extremely frustrating,” Jabobs said. 

The following reservoirs and towers under Johannesburg Water are affected:

  • South Hills Tower
  • Forest Hill Tower
  • Crown Gardens
  • Eagles Nest
  • Naturena
  • Alan Manor
  • Crosby
  • Brixton
  • Hurst Hill
  • Waterval
  • Linden
  • Quellerina
  • Florida North
  • Constantia       

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