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Ongoing Rustenburg Water Crisis

The water crisis continues in Rustenburg as no shock to the residents. Many claim that they expected the water crisis to return. These predictions were definitely proven by the water shortages of late. Because of this Rustenburg has reached the headlines of numerous media companies such as eNuus and Media24.

On Wednesday, 2 October 18H00, MUNWATCH  called a meeting with councilors surrounding the problem.

MUNWATCH chairperson, Frans Roodtman said. “We represent the minority of rate payers in Rustenburg, a mere thirty percent. You, the council misjudges our capabilities. Not just as consumers, but as capable individuals. Minority groups also have capable individuals that can add value to this municipality.” He continued by adding that it was expected of the municipality to admit that there were revenue management problems and that the paying community was being disrespected and ignored. “I want to thank you though,” he said, “for ignoring us. Your ignorance has created a passion inside us.”

In the meeting the community made the following demands:

  • That those affected by the crisis not be charged for basic water consumption in the following months.
  • That the municipality disclose full schematics of water supply lines on their website.
  • That response time to leakages be reduced to avoid any further wastage.

Municipal Manager, Dr. Kiddo Mako, said that he recognized the problem and the hardships experienced by the community and that they were engaging with Rand Water to find a resolution. He admitted that communication between the municipality and the community was not up to speed resulting in the lack of answers that had residents fuming. “We do respect the community. This is a winning community” he said before handing the podium to councilor Victor Makona.

Makona explaining Rustenburg’s infrastructure problem as follow:

“In the year 2000, the Rustenburg Local Municipality made an application to the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry ( DWAF ) with the objective to augmenting water supply to Rustenburg. The application was unfortunately not successful and the Municipality had to devise the Bospoort Water Scheme as an alternative for a period of five years.

In the year 2009, the Producer Forum Consortium did a pre-feasibility study on water supply in the Rustenburg area and the results did indicate that there would be a water shortage in Rustenburg in due course.

The results of the study proved right as this is exactly the situation we find ourselves in at the moment.

The Municipality is currently receiving 40 mega-litres per day from Rand Water as per the prescribed design. Rand Water has imposed water consumption restrictions to high consumers, such as mining companies by 50%. This will enable the Municipality to have a water supply to a reasonable extent, including the high lying areas as they are the most affected.  Failure to comply with the imposed restrictions will result in water shedding by Rand Water.

The Municipality has imposed water usage restrictions by prohibiting watering of gardens and filling of swimming pools at this stage. The Municipality has dedicated a team to detect all water leaks around Rustenburg. Rand Water is to install data loggers or effective monitoring instruments to ensure water restrictions.

Daily meetings chaired by Executive Mayor are held by the water crisis management forum to assess the situation and devise plans to restore the situation to normality. The municipality is to continue to provide water by means of water tankers to all affected areas as per the published itinerary.

In the long term, meetings with the Minister of Water Affairs ( DWA ) and MEC For Local Government and Traditional Affairs have been arranged with the objective to crafting a permanent solution.  Magalies Water is to increase supply to Rustenburg by 50%, planned for next year, 2014. Bakwena water pipeline by the Pilanesberg Water Scheme is to be explored to further augment the supply.”

Makona added that some of the daily challenges they face regarding the water is the necessity of upgrading the aging infrastructure and people in low lying areas that have water, storing it up in JoJo tanks and not keeping to water restrictions. “Leakages are also being caused by some disconnecting the water pipes to bypass the meters and fill their tanks and pools” he said.

Communications that were given by the municipality was summed up in a statement as follows, that can be found on their website (http://www.rustenburg.gov.za/node/474):

“AN UPDATE ON THE WATER SUPPLY CHALLENGES

Submitted by Communications Unit on Fri, 09/20/2013 – 10:01

A SMS message
20th September 2013

Kindly be informed that the Municipality has held an urgent meeting yesterday, 19th September 2013 and today, with Rand Water to resolve the current water supply challenge.  All Municipality’s reservoirs on the Rand Water lines are literally empty and an effort is being made by Rand Water to reduce industrial consumption so as to allow enough household supply. Rest assured all efforts are being made to resolve this unfortunate situation. Municipality’s water tankers will continue to supply water to all affected residents.”

Most residents claim to have never even seen this statement and that makes them question the communications of the local municipality. Most claim that they have not received any warning of the water shortages. Frustrated residents ask ‘how can we live without water? It affects everything in our daily lives. Water is an essential part of life!’ residents also claim that they feel they should not have to visit the municipality’s website to get information on future water, power or other shortages. Residents continue to display their frustration on the local municipalities Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rustenburg-Local-Municipality/177638965628059). Some residents allegedly are questioning whether their human rights to water are being respected.

The municipality did however state that an 8-point communications strategy has been formulated to maximize information dissemination by means of their website, Facebook, radio, local newspapers, notices, SMS bundles, Customer Care Centre and Ward Councillors. This statement was given on Monday 30/09/2013.

Possible temporary solutions that are being considered include a water shedding schedule, but its implementation could worsen the situation as it will affect even more areas in Rustenburg.

The residents of Rustenburg are becoming more agitated as the crisis continues. The question still stands: when will a permanent solution be established and how long will this crisis persist?

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