Water utility Rand Water on Tuesday said that it is currently supplying at capacity, in line with its abstraction licence, issued by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), as the Gauteng Democratic Alliance (DA) calls for its CEO Sipho Mosai to step down.
The organisation said that the DA’s petition is misplaced and unwarranted and reiterated its position that it supplies bulk water mainly to 18 municipalities through a network of 3 500 km of large diameter pipelines and 59 strategically located reservoirs that service 17-million consumers.
“Rand Water, in terms of its legislative mandate, is limited to the supply of water in large quantities to municipalities and therefore is not a water services authority. Rand Water does not distribute water to individual households which is the legislative mandate of water services authorities (municipalities).
“Notwithstanding the above, Rand Water works closely with municipalities to ensure seamless water supply in the value chain. To single out and apportion every water outage on Rand Water demonstrates an unexplained ignorance of the water supply value chain by the political party,” the company said in a press statement.
According to the statement, Rand Water supplies an average of 4 717 Mℓ/d to its customers and has the maximum supply capacity of 5 150 Mℓ/d in its operations; however, the utility is currently over-abstracting and producing water well above its permitted abstraction limit owing to high demand from municipalities.
While Rand Water is able and has the capacity to supply water to its municipal customers, water demand outstrips supply capacity during this time of the year, with the utility pointing out that, since the start of spring, bulk water provision to municipalities has increased from an average of 4 300 Mℓ/d to 4 800 Mℓ/d.
“It is evident that the challenge is not lack of capacity to supply water, but rather high consumption because of this hot period. This year's elevated consumption is anticipated to compound, attributed to South Africa's ongoing encounter with the El Niño phenomenon,” Rand Water continued.
Further, nonrevenue water, at 42.4% in the municipal space, remains a significant concern in the municipal distribution network.
“Although municipal efforts are commendable in curbing this high nonrevenue water, the Department of Water and Sanitation, which has been monitoring the water losses within the system since 2010, has noted that the actual demand is more than the projected system supply, meaning that the Water Conservation and Demand Management measured are not sufficiently implemented to reduce the water demand in municipalities,” Rand Water continued.
Rand Water plans for the refurbishment and augmentation of infrastructure and its 20-year planning document ‘Infrastructure Development Planning', reviewed every year, considers the ability of infrastructure to meet the adopted demand projection for the medium-to-long term future demands.
The demand projection combines customer-based information, Rand Water historical information and demographic information. This permits identification of augmentation projects, as well as the required size and completion date.
In February, Rand Water launched a new post-tensioned 210 Mℓ concrete reservoir in Vlakfontein to augment storage capacity in the Mapleton System, which supplies Tshwane and Ekurhuleni and receives water from the Zuikerbosch purification and pumping station.
As part its R34-billion capital works programme to augment our infrastructure and increase supply capacity, Rand Water has recently completed an augmentation of the capacity of its Zuikerbosch Water Treatment Plant, adding 150 Mℓ/d at a cost of R3.4-billion in August 2023.
Rand Water further plans to add another 450 Mℓ/d in the next 24 months.
“South Africa is a semi-arid country, instead of politicking, the DA in Gauteng should be assisting Rand Water and its municipalities to urge all consumers to use water sparingly during this El Nino state currently being experienced in the country. Selectively apportioning the blame at Rand Water doorsteps and its chief executive is not helpful in mobilizing those that have water to use it sparingly so that it reaches highly lying areas experiencing sporadic water supply,” the utility concluded.