21 March 2019

South Africa: DWS Works to Secure Water Supply Amid Power Cuts

The Department of Water and Sanitation says it is in consultation with a number of stakeholders and water entities throughout the country to ensure that their systems do not fail amid rolling power cuts.

The department's Deputy Director-General for Special Projects, Trevor Balzer, said the department is monitoring the situation and will respond as required.

Balzer said the power outages should, however, be reason enough for water users to double their water conservation efforts so that there is enough water for everyone.

He stressed that at this stage, there have been no reported water disruptions attributable to load shedding.

While the raised concerns are acknowledged, the department has urged water users not to panic with regard to water supply.

"In every 24-hour cycle of rotational load shedding, we can lose about four hours of pumping capacity. This is about 16% of capacity at a station, which would normally pump for 24 hours. So if we do indeed lose this type of capacity, we would require a similar reduction in consumption as we did during the past drought.

"Eskom has material interest in keeping our pump stations operational as they rely on our water supply to keep the power stations operational. We will be engaging with Eskom regarding protocol if we have to shut any station down.

"Some of our pump stations with variable speed motors need to go through an operational shutdown process and should not be subjected to a power failure," said Balzer.

The Rand Water System, serving approximately 12 million people, is still stable but it will be monitored as some of its capacity has been lost due to high demand caused by high temperatures.

In Limpopo, load shedding has affected bulk water supply operations in Phalaborwa, Marble Hall, Groblersdal and Polokwane. Lepelle Northern Water Board is engaging with Eskom to maintain power supplies to their installations during load shedding.

Magalies Water reports that load shedding has affected three water treatment plants, thus affecting Bela-Bela, Modimolle-Mookgopong and Moretele Local Municipalities.

Should the situation remain unchanged, a further negative impact will be on waste water treatment plants, where increased volumes of untreated effluent are expected to reach rivers and streams.

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