TAPS ran dry in some 40 areas in Johannesburg this week coinciding with the launch of the ongoing National Water Week.
As Minister of Water and Sanitation, Nomvula Mokonyane, was flagging off the exercise under the theme, “‘Water for People, Water by People,” in Port Elizabeth, thousands of kilometers away, scores of Johannesburg residents were reeling under the shortage of the precious liquid.
According to City Power officials, the problem emanated from Rand Water linking a new pipe to the existing infrastructure over the weekend, which meant disrupting the feed to the Yeoville reservoir. The facility carries 40 million litres per day.
An operation that was supposed to have lasted 24 hours from 06h00 on Sunday was beset by complications hence it took longer than expected and the reservoir ran dry.
Among the affected areas were Berea, Bertams, Bez Valley, Braamfontein, Bruma, Cyrildene, Doornfontein, Hillbrow, Kensington, Malvern, Observatory, Troyeville, Parktown and Yeoville.
These communities were left resembling villages as residents could be seen moving bucket in hand to secure water from neighbouring and tanks the water utility had placed in some areas.
Scuffles broke out intermittently at the few flats that had water as residents jostled in queues, particularly on Monday evening.
Similar scenes were reported at a number of tanks Joburg Water placed in key areas including hospitals and police stations.
There was pandemonium at a street corner in Yeoville as residents scrambled to collect water from a burst pipe.
“Should we die now because this is not working for anyone,” said Hillbrow resident Nomusa Ndlovu.
However, to some, the setback evoked a sense of humour. “Joburg residents will be like, ‘We don’t have water while it is raining’. I can never understand,” tweeted a resident.
Joburg Water apologised for the inconveniences. The utility said it would take longer to restore supplies to higher-lying areas.
At the time of going to print, residents confirmed supplies had been restored.
The increasing demand for water on the African continent is forcing water utilities to expand and improve their treatment and distribution capacities. African Utility Week event director Evan Schiff says the upcoming National Water Week (17-23 March) and International Water Day (22 March) “are important days to make us aware of the challenges, remind us that every drop counts and that water is a finite resource.”
“The African water industry is changing,” Evan Schiff adds. “In recent years, Africa’s economic growth rates have averaged around 5.2% per annum, making the continent one of the fastest growing regions in the world. Coupled with high population growth, urbanisation and changing lifestyles, the demand for natural resources especially water continues to increase rapidly on the continent with no signs that both growth and demand will slow down any time soon. This highlights an urgent need for water utilities to broaden and expand their infrastructure. At the same time, water as a sector is difficult to manage because conflicting industries are vying for the slice of this liquid pie.”
He continues: “innovation is on the increase and there is an ever growing awareness of the opportunities provided by sharing experiences and new smart water technologies. Once again at the 15th African Utility Week, taking place in Cape Town from 12-14 May, the water conference track offers an exciting spectrum of speakers on the state of the water industry today with both local and global experts sharing their success stories and valuable lessons. The event expo boasts Africa’s largest showcase of technology and service providers in water treatment, leak detection, metering and monitoring and control. It provides an opportunity to invest in knowledge and secure solutions to improve cost reduction strategies, sustainable business models, water management, treatment, supply and infrastructure. Importantly it will aim to find the answers to securing the future of water resources for Africa.”
Water experts and technology
Peter Flower, Director: Water and Sanitation, City of Cape Town, is one of the headline speakers and will address the water delegates on the “Continuous improvement in water management: The Cape Town perspective.” Says Mr Flower: “the City’s water department has been able to very successfully manage its demand growth over the last 15 years, through the co-operation of the residents of Cape Town and the successful implementation of the City’s Water Conservation and Demand Management Strategy. An indication of the success of these efforts is that, to date, the City has never exceeded the water demands experienced in 2000. This is remarkable when you consider there was significant population growth during this period. This has also enabled the city to defer the high capital expenditure on water resources and infrastructure development to a later time-frame.”
More conference highlights include:
“The Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality has adopted a 10-year Water Demand Management Strategy, comprising of programmes to effectively address, separately, technical and non-technical water losses.”
The evolution of water metering technology and the selection process
– Dorothy Batenegi Mabuza, Divisional Head: Water Revenue Management Water & Sanitation Department, Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality
“By 2030, the water industry will provide continuous quality water supply services to 100% of the existing urban and peri-urban residents of the inhabited areas.”
Panel discussion: Securing the future of water resources
– Engineer Harry Sikoma, Western Consulting, Zambia
“By adopting appropriate strategies and technologies, it is possible for utilities to serve and make money in the poor segments of society.”
Delegated management model: An answer to water service provision challenges in informal settlements
– Engineer David Onyango, Managing Director of the Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company Limited, Kenya.
“Currently in South Africa we have a water loss of around 38%, but we believe it is possible to reduce the loss by up to 20%.”
Smart water systems – Using the network
– Klaus Gruebl, Sensus country manager in South Africa
“There is quite a lot of impressive work going on in trying to operationalize the nexus perspective on the continent.”
North-South development cooperation: Best practices across borders
– Paul T. Yillia, consultant at Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
“SeeSaw is working in Angola’s second city, Huambo, to help the government and water utility gain a better understanding of the service level that customers experience.”
The pros and cons of prepaid versus mobile-enabled postpaid approaches for African water utilities
– David Schaub-Jones, Co-Founder, SeeSaw
The 15th African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa is expected to again attract more than 5000 attendees and features 250 exhibitors, 190 speakers, eight conferences, free technical workshops on the expo floor, three high-profile plenary sessions and the coveted industry awards gala dinner. During the African Utility Week Industry Awards, the African Water Utility of the Year, will also be announced.
DNV-GL has already confirmed its exclusive diamond sponsorship of the event while Accenture, Building Energy, MarelliMotori, Rubbytad and Edison Power Group are the platinum sponsors.
African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa are organised by Spintelligent, leading Cape Town-based trade exhibition and conference organiser, and the African office of Clarion Events Ltd, based in the UK.
African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa dates and location:
Exhibition & Conference: 12-14 May 2015
Industry awards: 13 May 2015
Site Visits: 15 May 2015
Location: CTICC, Cape Town
Book your seat here.
Join the discussion here.
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