Johannesburg’s Water Infrastructure Crisis: R120 Billion Required for Urgent Repairs

Johannesburg's Water Infrastructure Crisis

Johannesburg’s water infrastructure is in dire need of repair, with an estimated R120 billion required to address the issue, according to Zakhele Khuzwayo, the manager for innovation and technology at Joburg Water. In an interview with ENCA, Khuzwayo highlighted that the aging infrastructure, which should have been replaced years ago, has not been updated, and the cost of repairs continues to rise each year. From approximately R103 billion in 2021/22, the expense has now reached R120 billion.

  1. Johannesburg’s water infrastructure is in urgent need of repair and upgrading, with an estimated R120 billion required to address the issue, as aging infrastructure has not been replaced, and the cost of repairs continues to rise each year.
  2. The city is experiencing periodic water outages and has imposed Level-1 water restrictions on residents to ensure stability in the water systems. Last year, R930 million was allocated to repair infrastructure, including pipe replacements, leak repairs, and pump station improvements.
  3. Load shedding is the primary cause of many water outages, disrupting water pumps and essential pipelines. Some cities have requested that their water infrastructure networks be exempt from load shedding to mitigate the impact of these disruptions on the water supply.

The city has grappled with periodic water outages, further aggravated by rolling blackouts. On 22 March, Johannesburg Water reported that despite constant monitoring, water systems across the city show only minimal improvements.

Level-1 Water Restrictions Imposed

Residents have been urged to observe Level-1 water restrictions, which prohibit the use of hosepipes for watering gardens, washing cars, cleaning driveways, filling pools, or water features between 06:00 and 18:00. Johannesburg Water stated that these restrictions aim to ensure stability in the water systems throughout the coming months.

Johannesburg Water frequently reports cases of interrupted water supply due to either planned maintenance or unplanned bursts. Last year, the city allocated R930 million to repair infrastructure, which included:

  • A R93 million pipe replacement program;
  • R127 million allocated for repairing leaks;
  • R30 million designated for a new Crosby pump station;
  • R240 million assigned for repairs at the Brixton reservoir and pump station.

The former City mayor noted that Johannesburg Water has already replaced over 100 kilometers of pipes across the city, but much more work is still required.

Ongoing Water Outages in Johannesburg South

Several suburbs in Johannesburg South are currently experiencing water outages due to power outages at Joburg Water’s bulk supplier, Rand Water, on 20 March, which have affected the ability to pump water. Suburbs such as Brixton, Hursthill, and Crosby have all been impacted.

Johannesburg Water anticipates improvements starting from 23 March and has placed water tankers across affected areas to provide some relief. Load shedding is the primary cause of many water outages, as it disrupts water pumps and essential pipelines. In January, the City of Joburg announced that areas experiencing four hours or more of load shedding would face reduced water pressure.

Although reservoirs store water to withstand short interruptions, they rely on a continuous pumped flow to maintain levels and prepare for outages, all of which require electricity. In response to these outages, some cities have requested that their water infrastructure networks be exempt from load shedding.

Addressing Johannesburg’s water infrastructure crisis is crucial to ensure a stable and reliable water supply for the city’s residents. The R120 billion required for repairs and upgrades highlights the urgency of the situation and the need for prompt action from the city’s authorities.

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