Embattled bulk water supplier Rand Water said on Monday supply had been restored to parts of North West and Gauteng after a power outage that resulted in a 60% production loss at its Zuikerbosch treatment works.

Rand Water spokesperson Justice Mohale told Business Day: “We are back at full capacity. Water supply has been restored to affected areas, we have been pumping at full capacity since the early hours of this morning.”

On Sunday, Rand Water said its Zuikerbosch water treatment works had been severely affected by a power supply interruption at Eskom’s Snowden high voltage substation after a veld fire.

Rand Water said the power loss affected four of its major systems - Eikenhof, Mapleton, Zwartkopjes and Palmiet. The water utility had warned that the metros of Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Johannesburg, and Mogale City, Rustenburg and West Rand local municipalities would be affected.

The water disruptions came as the country is trying to recover from Covid-19, which resulted in the economy contracting 7% in 2020 and led to a loss of about 1.4-million jobs.

Rand Water is crucial to the economy as it supplies the province’s metros of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and the capital city Tshwane, local municipalities, mines and other industries, as well as parts of Mpumalanga, the North West and the Free State with an average of 3.65-million litres of potable water daily.

However, the water supplier has been beset by operational challenges, system failures and demand outstripping supply, that resulted in water outages in parts of SA’s economic hub. In July an explosion at Rand Water’s Palmiet booster pumping station in Alberton left three metros without water.

Earlier this month, angry residents of South Hills in Johannesburg marched to Rand Water’s offices in Glenvista, demanding answers. Water outages in areas such as South Hills, Linmeyer, Tulisa Park, and Risana, among other areas, resulted in schools shutting down. 

Rand Water said at the time it had implemented restrictions on the metros of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane as its distribution network was “under severe pressure as water consumption exceeds supply”.

This resulted in low water levels in some of its critical reservoirs, and a power failure at the Zuikerbosch water treatment plant worsened the situation.

Water and sanitation department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said in terms of operations, “Rand Water is still operating optimally”. Regarding water outages, he said the water utility was working with municipalities to reduce consumption because “there is over consumption at the moment, that is putting a stress on the system”.

Johannesburg Water, which supplies 1.6-billion litres of drinkable water a day procured from Rand Water, said in a statement on Monday that power supply “has since been restored and Johannesburg Water’s systems are stable”.



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