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City of Joburg to continue with water system upgrades

Officials say plans are also underway for the construction of two additional reservoirs.

City of Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau attended a briefing on the state of Johannesburg's water situation on 12 November 2015. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Despite numerous water cuts, the City of Johannesburg says it's able to manage its current challenges because of the continuous upgrading and maintenance of its infrastructure.

Rand Water has accused Gauteng municipalities of not updating their own facilities, leading to current problems.

However, Joburg Water says one of its biggest focuses has been the upkeep of the existing pipe network.

The city says despite a chain of unfavourable events, it has been able to manage water problem s as effectively as possible.

Johannesburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau said, "Part of the reason we've been able to mitigate part of the challenges that we're facing relates to the fact that we've built extra capacity."

Joburg Water's Managing Director Lungile Dlamini, says the past three years have seen major improvements in infrastructure.

Officials say plans are also underway for the construction of two additional reservoirs.

WATCH: Taps have run dry in some parts of Johannesburg, and residents now have to rely on water tankers in order to collect this precious resource.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan has told the City of Johannesburg to provide ratepayers with a clear schedule, to help them survive water shortages.

#WaterCrisis A briefing is underway on the current water crisis in Johannesburg. DB. pic.twitter.com/6hcyYpntJo

Officials say 46 percent of domestic water supply is being used to water gardens, a figure it says needs to come down dramatically if harsher restrictions are to be avoided.

Gordhan says in the meantime, residents may need a way to plan their lives around the interruptions.

He says all residents affected by water cuts need some sort of structure to be able to organise their lives.

"So we can plan our lives accordingly; when do we cook, when do we wash clothes, when do we do whatever…"

Gordhan says residents also have the responsibility to heed calls for reduced usage to help the system recover.

LISTEN: Speaking to 702'S John Robbie, David Masterton claims he has the right technological solution to bring much-needed rain.

Tau says the watering of gardens at all hours is the biggest change that must be made.

"We water our gardens every day. Using our sprinkler systems is putting a lot of pressure on the system."

Residents in affected areas say they're frustrated as they don't know how much longer their domestic dry spells will last.

LISTEN: _702 listeners called in to the breakfast show with John Robbie to weigh in on water supply issues. _

BUSINESSES AFFECTED

At the same time, while the city says it plans to meet with businesses that cannot function without water, a laundromat owner has told Eyewitness News he stands to lose major contracts because he cannot guarantee that the work will be done.

Laundromat, car washes and hair salons are some of the small businesses hardest hit by the shortages.

Mark Kaplan owns a Laundromat in Newlands which has been without water from 6am in the morning until 4pm in the afternoon, since Monday.

Kaplan says his future contracts are in jeopardy.

"It's costing me between R10 and R12 a kilogram to outsource for somebody else to do. In December we've got a big contract coming on board and I'll have to potentially have to outsource that as well, which has a cost implication to myself as well."

SCHOOLS AFFECTED

The Gauteng Department of Education says it's in talks with the city to manage water cuts at public schools, where pupils are writing exams.

Officials say water tankers are also on standby to provide additional relief.

Some pupils in the Brixton area and in suburbs south of Johannesburg earlier this week claimed they were sent home from school due to the lack of water while others say they wrote exams without water being available.

The department has also called on parents to send young children to school with extra bottles of water if possible.

Spokesperson Phumla Sekhonyane says, "We haven't have disturbances in terms of the exams, but we are working very closely with the city because the reports we've received are mainly in the Johannesburg areas, especially the south."

CAPE TOWN

In Cape Town, the City Council will next month table several measures aimed at avoiding a water shortage.

The city has appealed to residents to use water responsibly.

The municipality's Zanthea Limberg says one of the proposed moves will include a ban on watering gardens between 4am and 4pm.

"In light of the water crisis on a national level, the city is attempting to act proactively and considering looking at precautionary water restrictions."