10 October 2016

On 13 September this year, at this very same venue, my colleague, Cllr Darryl Moss, and the head of Water and Sanitation, Stephens Notoane, announced steps the City of Tshwane intended taking to save water. This followed a National Department of Water and Sanitation notice in the Government Gazette of 12 August compelling municipalities that draw water from the Vaal Integrated River System to reduce water consumption by 15%.

On 6 October, Rand Water, our main source of water supply, also called on municipalities across Gauteng to reduce the supply of water by 15% or face the prospect of a complete system crush as dam levels continued to dwindle to unprecedented levels.

According to Rand Water, water reduction had regressed to a disappointing 2,7% by 3 October. This was after the actual restrictions had started on 6 September. They detected that people were not saving the expected amount of water.

Tshwane’s water restrictions were in effect from 13 September and a drive was launched to inform residents of the restrictions and implore them to use water sparingly and –

· not irrigate gardens with a hosepipe or sprinkler between 06:00 and 18:00 (you are only allowed to do so between 18:00 and 22:00);
· not wash vehicles with hosepipes (only use buckets) and not fill swimming pools;
· not irrigate golf courses with municipal water; and
· not irrigate municipal parks and road islands.

It has become patently clear that some of our customers have failed to heed our humble request to use water sparingly. Hence we have begun to implement technical interventions that would enable us to meet the 15% water reduction set by the National Department of Water and Sanitation and Rand Water.

These interventions, under the theme “Thiba Komelelo” (stop the drought), have begun in earnest, and will entail, inter alia, the following measures:

· Throttle the water supply system by partially closing main water outlet valves at reservoirs, so that flow is restricted and reservoirs can maintain good levels;
· Throttle the main water network pipes to restrict flow;
· Implement scheduled water shedding;
· Install flow restrictors for high water consumers/users;
· Reduce water pressures in low-lying areas, where possible;
· Restrict water supply to residential complexes and businesses (where pressure allows);
· Restrict water supply to retirement villages;
· Reinforce maintenance teams to curb pipe bursts and water leaks;
· Recruit more learners from Rand Water and the National Department of Water and Sanitation to strengthen maintenance and war-on-leaks teams;
· Create a forum to engage with the top 100 water users;
· Create a dedicated telephone line at customer care centres to report water leaks; and
· Create an SMS to report water leaks and pipe bursts.

We will also intensify our community awareness campaigns, fully implement the communication strategy and encourage the communities to name and shame offenders. Moreover, we will encourage ward councillors to urgently engage with their respective communities about the measures we have begun to implement.

We have been left with no choice, but to implement these measures, failing which we would be facing the prospect of our taps running dry.