Electricity crisis triggers water cuts in South Africa’s economic hub

(Bloomberg) – Parts of Johannesburg, South Africa’s economic hub, are facing further water supply cuts as ongoing power shortages disrupt pumping operations.

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A power outage at Rand Water’s Eikenhof pumping station, which supplies reservoirs in several high-altitude areas of Johannesburg, has resulted in extremely low supply levels, the municipality said on Twitter on Monday. Although repairs have been completed, he warned that it takes time to rebuild the storage system. Alternative water sources have been developed for hospitals.

Utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., which provides 90% of all electricity in South Africa, is unable to meet power demand from its mostly old and poorly maintained power stations, and instituted blackouts to prevent the national grid from collapsing. There were record outages last year and they show no signs of slowing down.

Electricity rationing, which can last for hours at a time, is increasingly straining the economy and disrupting manufacturing, mining and agriculture. Cape Town, the country’s main tourist hub, partially closed several beaches at the height of the festive season late last year after sewage pumps broke down.

Read more: Why power outages still cripple South Africa: QuickTake

Municipalities must ensure that sewage infrastructure, sewer pumping stations and generators are maintained and kept running to ensure there are no sewage spills, according to the ministry of Water and Sanitation. She confirmed that power outages do, however, reduce the reliability of water supplies to consumers, with the effects varying from region to region depending on the capacity of their back-up generators.

“The process of shutting down and starting up water treatment plants negatively impacts water quality,” the department said in an email response to questions. “Power cuts also have a negative impact on the treatment process at the treatment plant, resulting in poorly treated discharges from the treatment plant. The storage capacity of sewer pumping stations was not designed for long periods without pumping. This also increases the risk of possible spills.

Crime and vandalism have also had a negative impact on Johannesburg’s water supply: thousands of water meters, manhole covers and hundreds of water tanks were stolen during the year elapsed, according to the municipality.

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