Leaks take 464m litres of water out of Johannesburg’s taps

Last month, Johannesburg Water senior networks manager Logan Munsamy blamed population growth in the city as one of the reasons for water shortages.


The Joburg municipality loses at least 464 million litres of water a day through leaks, which results in it struggling to provide water to some parts of the city. Speaking to Saturday Citizen yesterday, Rand Water chief executive Sipho Mosai said of the five billion litres it pumped every day, 1.6 billion were provided to Johannesburg Water, which loses 44% of that through leaks and other avenues. WATCH: Gauteng residents warned to brace for ‘water shifting’- but what is it? According to a report by the department of water and sanitation called No Drop Watch, physical losses (water leaks) in…

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The Joburg municipality loses at least 464 million litres of water a day through leaks, which results in it struggling to provide water to some parts of the city.

Speaking to Saturday Citizen yesterday, Rand Water chief executive Sipho Mosai said of the five billion litres it pumped every day, 1.6 billion were provided to Johannesburg Water, which loses 44% of that through leaks and other avenues.

WATCH: Gauteng residents warned to brace for ‘water shifting’- but what is it?

According to a report by the department of water and sanitation called No Drop Watch, physical losses (water leaks) in the Johannesburg municipality accounted for 30% of what was supplied by Rand Water, plus an additional 14%, while nonrevenue (or lost) water totalled 44%. This meant the city lost 464 million litres through leaks every day.

“The 14% is your meters: the meters are not reading correctly, or people are not paying. Then 30% is water leaks, collectively [the 44%] is nonrevenue water – they are not generating revenue for it,” he said.

Johannesburg Water was unable to respond at the time of going to print.

Population growth

Last month, Johannesburg Water senior networks manager Logan Munsamy blamed population growth in the city as one of the reasons for water shortages; chief operating officer Derrick Kgwale blamed high temperatures.

Minister of Water and Sanitation Senzo Mchunu said Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi should consider announcing that the province was full and lock all the gates to deal with the crisis. In summer, Mosai said, water consumption was expected to rise.

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“My production is five billion litres of water a day and I think Johannesburg consumes 1.6 billion litres a day. If the consumption was within the agreed amount with the city, water would not be a problem.”

“If in summer it goes beyond 1.5 [billion litres] consistently, we then have a problem. There is a maximum we can pump and there’s a maximum we can abstract. We are already extracting more than the maximum.

Leaks must be fixed

“What we need to do … is consume within the max. Experts and the department of water and sanitation are saying the five billion for all the municipalities and 150 megalitres we added in August should be sufficient if the leaks, the actual consumption, is attended to.

“By consumption, we are not talking just household consumption, we are talking about (all) water that leaves our infrastructure.”

Addressing the issues of nonpayment from municipalities, Mosai said this was a problem because Rand Water was a self-sufficient body.

“We do not get an allocation from the fiscus, we do not have bailouts. We buy water from the department of water and sanitation and pay for everything. We buy raw water and have to clean it. We need chemicals, we need people, we need engineers, scientists and operators,” he said.

ALSO READ: Dry taps loom: Tshwane residents urged to conserve water

“After we do that, we pump it, and that is energy, we have to repair and maintain it. Revenue and the cash that comes with that revenue in a cash flow statement is extremely important because we have to be ‘profitable’.

“At this point, we have municipalities that are not paying or have not paid. Fortunately, the big ones are paying – some of them are paying late, but we do eventually collect.”

He said they would not cut off those municipalities which were not paying.

“The intergovernmental framework says we must engage and engage to no end. None of these municipalities’ flows have been reduced.

“It is not in our best interest to cut, it is in our best interest to work with the municipalities to find solutions.”

ALSO READ: Giyani water project still leaks: Vandalism clouds progress

Mosai was pleased the Joburg council had decided to acquire its water from other sources, like wells and underground rivers or springs, instead of depending exclusively on Rand Water.

“As a country, we have overly exploited surface water,” he said. “If we can exploit other sources of water, it is welcomed.”

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