It experiences blockages due to what people across northern Joburg throw down the system; it has sewage and rainwater mixing due to superimposed sewers collapsing into each other; it lacks the pumping capacity to manage what comes down the sewers on a daily basis. In one year, Joburg Water needs to patrol 673 kms of sewers and clear, on average, one major blockage every day (365 a year).
A major challenge is the lack of budget for waste-water and pollution-fighting actions. This is where citizen action will have to bring pressure to bear on the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) to set aside the funding needed for proper protection and use of water resources.
The petition signed last year by 400+ people affected by the constant sewage spills into the Jukskei River resulted in action from Joburg Water. This led to the establishment of ARMOUR (Action for Responsible Management of Our Rivers), a lobby to hold water authorities responsible for the proper management of our waterways. A Water Forum that includes top officials from Joburg Water now meets monthly to ensure that proper and timeous action is being taken to address the most critical issues.
It seems clear that Joburg Water has been short-served by the budgets they’ve been given, by some poor designs from its own planning officials and outside consultants (manholes of inadequate size built in wrong places) and by sometimes unskilled and/or poorly managed staff. The upshot of this is a sewerage and rainwater sewer system permanently in crisis, exacerbated by the abuse of the system by its own users.
Ed: The photograph on this posting is of a clean-up party organised by Green Being on the Jukskei River