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Burst pipes and wasted water drenching Wilgeheuwel streets

As Johannesburg Water fights to repair backlog, the entity issued a statement warning residents to adhere to level one water restrictions.

Rivers of an irreplaceable resource running endlessly over tarmac is a wasteful sight.

Burst and leaking pipes are increasingly regular, with two examples occurring in the same street. Johannesburg Water (JW) dug up the verge outside a residential development next to the Extreme Park in Wilgeheuwel on September 1. As teams worked, a metre-high fountain of water spewed at the other end of Lubbe Rouge Street from the area where a pipe was repaired just weeks ago.

The burst pipe near Nic Diederichs Road had been gushing water down the complex’s driveway for three days and residents had to endure the added inconvenience of not being able to access their homes on Friday afternoon as the digger worked away. After digging the trench, a labourer got waist-deep into the water to locate the burst, which was repaired later that evening.

Johannesburg Water’s digger removes water from the trench. Photo: Jarryd Westerdale.

On the same day, JW issued a Spring Day statement urging residents to reduce consumption as demand was outstripping supply. The Department of Water and Sanitation listed the Vaal Dam’s level at 86.6% as of August 28 but relaying Rand Water’s position, the media statement warned that should consumption not be curtailed, ‘extreme measures may have to be instituted.’

“JW notes with concern the current high water consumption and urges residents to reduce usage. This coincides with the implementation of the City of Johannesburg’s level one water restrictions, which run from 1 September to 31 March, annually. The restrictions are due to increasing water consumption caused by the warmer weather and lack of rain,” read the statement.
JW was asked on September 4 how many kilolitres of water were lost due to burst pipes but no information has since been provided.

Reinstatements, the term JW uses for returning sites to their original condition, is another function that takes strain due to increased ruptures.

“Ageing infrastructure plays a role in that as the number of bursts increases, the number of excavations also increases. Resource availability, which is both financial and human, then becomes a challenge. The entity has however increased working times of reinstatement teams, especially over weekends,” stated JW external communications officer Nolwazi Dlamini.

Outlining the entity’s service level agreement, Dlamini added, “The general total turnaround time for reinstatements is 15 days: Five days for backfilling and then another 10 days for tar reinstatements. It is important to note that because work is scheduled according to capacity, some reinstatement jobs may take longer to complete. JW is facing a huge backlog of reinstatements around the city, which we are working around the clock with both internal teams and service providers to complete.”

Johannesburg Water’s digger removes water from the trench. Photo: Jarryd Westerdale.

Under level one water restrictions, the watering of gardens is prohibited between 06:00 and 18:00 from September 1 to March 31. Additionally, residents are not permitted to wash paved areas and driveways using hose pipes.

“Now more than ever, it is imperative that we change our habits when it comes to water use. We can all make a difference by introducing one small change a day,” the Spring Day statement continued.

Here are simple water-saving habits to implement into your daily routine:

• Do not leave taps dripping
• Wash your car on the grass with grey water as this will water your lawn at the same time
• Shorten your showering time
• Use a glass of water to rinse when brushing your teeth
• Take shallow baths and avoid filling your bath to a depth greater than 100mm
• Reuse grey water to water your garden or pot plants
• Fix all leaking plumbing features in your house

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