Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Pravin Gordhan, has said the water shortage currently affecting parts of Joburg is a problem, and not a crisis, as the issue is manageable.

Gordhan said this at a water shortage status media briefing held by the City of Joburg this afternoon.

“We do have a problem, not a crisis. A crisis would be when a problem is unmanageable,” the minister said.

Water shortages have affected suburbs such as Brixton, Sandton, Westdene, Crown Gardens, South Hills, Helen Joseph Hospital, Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital Illovo and a number of schools in the city.

Executive mayor of the city, Parks Tau, said the problems started two weeks ago when a power failure affected the city’s systems in southern suburbs.

Gordhan attributed the continuation of the problem to changing weather conditions, increased demand and general bad usage habits by residents, including using up to 46% of bulk domestic supply for watering gardens.

Tau added that water leakages were also a contributing factor and pointed out that such issues should be attended to quickly. “We can’t allow wastage where a pipe bursts and remains unfixed for 24 hours,” he said.

The mayor did however say that the city is seeing progress with regards to repairing leaks and burst water pipes through its infrastructure and maintenance program. “Unaccounted for water was 31% about three years ago. It’s now below 23%, due to our maintenance and infrastructure upgrades,” he said.

Tau also urged those in affected areas to reduce pressure on bulk supply by reducing usage where possible.

[Image – CC Wikimedia Commons]