Joburg losing 120 million litres of water annually to leaks, wastage

In the midst of a heatwave, govt is warning that consumers can be penalised for not conserving water.

FILE: In the midst of a water crisis & heatwave, govt has warned consumers can be penalised for not conserving water. Picture: Free Images.

JOHANNESBURG - Municipalities across the country are appealing to South Africans to use water sparingly, and while the Gauteng government says it's able to closely monitor how water is used in households it says an urgent overhaul of apartheid-era infrastructure is needed.

In Johannesburg, an estimated 120 million litres of water is lost annually due to leaks and wastage.

The province's billing and meter system has also been criticised for inaccuracies.

But government has warned that consumers can be penalised for not conserving the precious resource.

Gauteng Cooperative Governance MEC Jacob Mamabolo says the system used to monitor water use in the province is effective.

"We can monitor it through water storage infrastructure. It will tell us which rate of consumption we're at. They can enforce penalties where they clearly see an increase in the use of water."

But Wits University professor of governance and water expert Mike Muller, says it needs to be improved.

"We really do depend on our municipalities being able to control consumption by individual users and sometimes to do that, they're going to have to meter everybody. How can you restrict somebody if you don't know how much water they use?"

Government has also launched a 'war on leaks' campaign aimed at stemming the flow of wasted water across the country.


Mamabolo says while the province's dams are at a comfortable capacity, control measures have been implemented to avoid a crisis.

On Tuesday, the Water and Sanitation Department's assertions were reiterated that Gauteng dams are at an 84 percent capacity.

The Provincial Legislature was told on Tuesday that current water restrictions are only a sustainability measure and aren't intended to affect supply.

Mamabolo says current dam levels indicate that Gauteng won't experience water shortages provided all municipalities comply with calls for responsible usage.

"All the municipalities have issued a directive to ensure that water is used sparingly and very carefully."

The Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg municipalities have all implemented water restrictions to support the refilling of Rand Water's reservoirs.

The water regulator says it's struggling to fill some of its reserves as it battles increases in demand, the current heatwave and changing climate conditions.