By Calyn Peters
The recent water shortages experienced in South Africa’s major cities within the Gauteng Province (Johannesburg and Tshwane) have had a major impact on the livelihoods of ordinary residents with Robertsham residents indicating they have gone 12 days without water. In another incident reported by EWN on the 22nd of January 2023, Rand Water restricted water supply to the City of Tshwane by implementing control measure after residents failed to heed the call to use water sparingly.
The Water and Sanitation Departments director general Dr Sean Phillips mentioned that “the high stages of load shedding have had a severe impact on the supply of water in some municipalities in Gauteng”. The disruption of electrical supply due to load-shedding results in the shut-down of some water treatment plants and water pump stations. This creates a challenge with the water treatment processes. An example of this is when municipalities use electrical pumping systems, during load shedding there isn’t enough pressure on the gravity-fed system currently being utilised for the water to reach certain areas and in some cases can even cause some sewage pump stations to shut down, occasionally resulting in sewage spills.
The above-mentioned scenario is a prime example of how loadshedding has had a rippling effect on other key service delivery requirements and further adding to the frustrations already being experienced by citizens in South Africa.
The role The Integrated Renewable Energy & Resource Efficiency Programme can play.
The integrated approach towards resource efficiency applied within the structuring of IREREP aims to procure technology agnostic solutions and is a practical demonstration of how South Africa can be more water sustainable and build towards a resilient future. Through the implementation of water efficiency solutions at public facilities, the strain on the bulk water suppliers will be significantly eased due to the sheer size of the DPWI portfolio and the relatively high consumption. This is a key initiative in which the DPWI can play a role towards alleviating the current issues being experienced by the municipalities in Gauteng.
A key value-add in the structuring of IREREP is the fact that the model has been proven across multiple regions across the world and can be replicated in various countries. This means that even though IREREP is catered towards government owned buildings, there is an opportunity to roll-out the programme at municipality level and assist municipalities with its ailing infrastructure and continuous water supply issues.