As cabinet meets today to continue discussions over the power crisis in the country, thousands of households as well as schools and health facilities across the country face going without water because of Eskom’s failures.
Municipalities that rely on electricity to pump water to distribute it to various areas under their jurisdiction were unable to fill up their reservoirs fast enough as power utility Eskom continues to implement stage 4, 5 and 6 power cuts to manage the collapse of power stations.
In Limpopo, rolling power cuts have created a massive water crisis for residents from 1,567 villages and settlements.
In Gauteng, on the East Rand, areas such as Benoni, Daveyton, Etwatwa, Vosloorus, Katlehong, Brakpan, Springs and Tsakane are experiencing low water pressure to no water due to the prolonged power supply interruption.
On Tuesday, City of Ekurhuleni spokesperson Zweli Dlamini said reservoirs and water pump stations that rely on electricity have been affected by load-shedding.
Earlier this week, Johannesburg Water spokesperson Puleng Mopeli said pump stations, which supply water to towers in various areas, had affected 15 Joburg Water towers and had little-to-no-water during load-shedding.
Spokesperson for Sekhukhune district municipality Khomotso Ndhlovu said all 811 settlements under the municipality’s care experienced periodic water interruptions as a result of load-shedding.
Ndhlovu said the problem was so dire that they struggled to fill up tankers that usually deliver water to areas that have infrastructure problems.
He said a water treatment plant like Flag Boshielo would generate about 16 megalitres to supply reservoirs in the district but they could only manage to pump seven or eight megalitres.
“All of the areas under our district are affected. If there’s no electricity then our reservoirs are always half empty because it takes time to fill them up. It is easier to manage the situation at stage 2 load-shedding but with stage 5 or 6 it becomes harder,” he said.
At Mopani district, which provides water for 359 villages across five local municipalities, reservoirs were also not being filled to capacity. The district municipality’s spokesperson Odas Ngobeni said the Giyani water treatment plant, for instance, had dropped its pumping capacity within a 24-hour cycle from 20 megalitres to about 12.
Ngobeni said about 10-hour pumping time was being lost, while the municipality has to spend 1,000 litres of diesel a day to keep backup generators running so they can ramp up the water supply. “We are incurring costs that are not budgeted for but we have an obligation to deliver water to people. We are under immense pressure. This is the worst we have ever seen,” Ngobeni said.
He said schools and health facilities were also strained, adding that they advised people to store water wherever possible and also use it sparingly.
About 197 villages under the Mogalakwena local municipality are also affected, with the municipality warning people to expect interrupted supply on Wednesday due to power cuts. The municipality’s spokesperson Malesela Solekela said residents were advised to check the load-shedding schedules to prepare for the eventuality of not having water and electricity at the same time.
The City of Polokwane local municipality also sent a notice to residents on Tuesday announcing that water supply interruptions would continue due to stage 4, 5 and 6 power cuts. About 200 settlements and villages under the city are affected.
Government spokesperson Phumla Williams said cabinet met virtually for a scheduled meeting to discuss a number of issues that included load-shedding.
“Cabinet also discussed the problem of load-shedding that has over the past week disrupted the economic activities of businesses and inconvenienced households in the country.
“Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan today presented a briefing on the capacity of Eskom and a progress report from the technical committee of the national energy crisis committee.
“Cabinet is still deliberating on these reports and following [that] further interventions will be made,” Williams said.