On the 19th March 2021 a very important meeting on Rustenburg’s bulk water supply crisis took place at Bospoort water treatment plant. In attendance were the following stakeholders:

Rustenburg Local Municipality which was represented by the Executive Mayor Clr Mpho Khunou, MMC Mhlungu, Clr Snyders, Clr Du Plessis, Municipal Manager, Director DTIS, Acting Unit Manager- Water Supply and other officials.

Magalies Water represented by the Board Chairperson Ms Pinky Motoko the Chief Executive, General Manager and other officials.

Rand Water was represented by Senior Customer Executives. The Rustenburg Water Services Trust was represented by the Board Chairperson Mr Vinesh Dilsook and the CEO. Also in attendance was MP Hon Cheryl Phillips.

The purpose of the meeting was to focus on the current bulk water challenges in Rustenburg which have severely affected supply to large sections of the municipality. The meeting also dealt with water quality concerns by the municipality on behalf of residents.

The following is a brief overview of reports presented by the various water boards on the current bulk water supply challenges.

1.1 Rand Water

This entity supplies water to Rustenburg through two systems. The first is through the Vaal river water network which supplies via the Barnardsvlei reservoir and two pipelines commonly known as P1 and P2. About 140 mega litres are pumped to Rustenburg through this system although only about 40 mega litres reaches the city for domestic/ household consumption. ‘’Approximately 100 mega litres of this water is actually utilised by the mines in terms of direct agreements with Rand Water’’.

In terms of an existing agreement with Magalies Water, Rand Water buys on average 70 mega litres of water from the entity to supply to Rustenburg. This water finds its way to Rustenburg through the Boosport reservoir. The water from this reservoir feeds into the following reservoirs; townlands and industry. According to Magalies Water which produces the water supplied to Rand Water and ultimately to Rustenburg a number of mines including Impala are fed from the Boosport reservoir. In terms of the 70 mega litres mentioned above about 6 mega litres is supplied to the Royal Bafokeng areas. The remainder which is approximately 64 mega litres is shared between the mines and the household consumers of Rustenburg. What was not disclosed in the meeting was the exact breakdown of how the 64 mega litres is shared between the mines and the municipality for domestic consumption.

A major area of contention in the meeting was on the fact that Bospoort reservoir always records very low levels irrespective of restrictions imposed to raise it. This appears to be the main reason why residents in this supply line are  frequently without water  The areas which are regularly affected include the greater  Boitekong ,Sunrise Park, Rustenburg North , Ramochana Seraleng, Sondela, Zinniaville , Karlienpark, Tlhabane , Tlhabane West and Geelhout Park. A thorough investigation is to be urgently undertaken to establish why the Bospoort reservoir is never full to capacity irrespective of the length of time the restrictions are imposed

1.2 Magalies  Water

In essence their report indicated that the existing agreement with Magalies Water provides for the supply of 55 mega litres but due to the demand in Rustenburg they supply on average the 70 mega litres referred to above. In addition they supply approximately 9 mega litres to areas such as Lethabong, Monakato, Bethanie, and Makolokwe. These residents are also at the brunt of supply interruptions as demand far exceeds supply. Magalies further reported that they have installed a new pump at their Vaalkop plant to improve capacity although they expressed serious concern about the Vaalkop Plant being operated beyond its design capacity which in itself poses a huge risk.

In order to meet the forever growing water demand in Rustenburg, Magalies had long ago initiated the Pilanesburg water scheme which is to supply an additional 70 mega litres.  This scheme has been implemented up to Mafenya in Rustenburg and should have been completed as far back as 2016. Magalies Water revealed that they need close to 1 billion rand to complete this project and they anticipate that once funding is secured it could take up to two years to complete the project. Confirmation of the funding is still awaited from the Department of Water and Sanitation.  This matter will be once more elevated to National government.

According to Magalies the water supplied to Rustenburg is compliant with the applicable quality standards. This matter was vehemently disputed by the Councillors of the municipality who contended that large parts of Rustenburg experience serious issues of water quality. The municipality has appointed experts to regularly monitor the water quality supplied.

1.3 Rustenburg Water Services Trust

The entity runs the Bospoort Water treatment plant which currently has capacity to produce 12 mega litres. This water is supplied to Rustenburg through the Industry reservoirs. In terms of a study conducted by the monitoring and evaluation unit of the municipality the Boosport plant regularly reports very frequent power supply interruptions.  For example on the 16th March 2021 the plant record more than 50 electricity supply interruptions.  The power interruptions are so frequent that water supply to Rustenburg is severely affected most of the time. It is for this reason that at the end of 2019 the municipality commissioned an old Rand water line from the Rustenburg Civic centre to boost supply to Industry reservoir. This however does not result in addition water overall to Rustenburg but rather a form of supply and demand management to various parts of the city.  The Rustenburg Water services trust has made several attempts to secure a dedicated line to the Bospoort plant from Eskom without much success. This line will eliminate the frequent power supply interruptions to the plant which have drastically affected water delivery to residents.  This matter will be elevated once more to the Provincial management of Eskom. The Trust is also currently busy to upgrade the Bospoort plant in order to double supply from 12 to 24 mega litres. This project will take about two years to complete.

1.4 Overall picture of Bulk Water Supply

Rand Water supplies 140 mega litres from the Barnardvlei reservoir about 100 mega litres is supplied to the mines. Rand Water supplies water to Rustenburg bought from Magalies Water, although Magalies Water indicates that it supplies 70 mega litres through this arrangement not all this water is ultimately delivered to households in Rustenburg, we estimate about only about half of the 64 mega litres (Subtracting Bafokeng Supply) reaches domestic consumers.

Magalies Water supplies an additional 9 mega litres as explained above.

Rustenburg Water Services Trust is meant to supply 12 mega litres but due to frequent electricity interruptions we estimate that only we only receive at best 6 mega litres per day.

Total domestic demand for Rustenburg is estimated at about 135 mega litres but we only receive about 85 mega litres resulting in daily shortfall of about 50 mega litres.

1.5 Plan of action

The meeting agreed on the following:

  1. The immediate establishment of a task team led by the Municipal Manager including all the water boards, mines and other experts to find ways to alleviate the current crisis. The task team will focus on the following:
  • Investigation of bulk supply into Rustenburg to establish all the off take points on both the Vaalkop and Barnardsvlei system. Special attention in this regard must be given to the Bospoort reservoir which never records acceptable levels irrespective of the amount of restrictions imposed.
  • An assessment of the actual status of water supply and demand for both domestic and industrial use.
  • This assessment is to enable more acceptable demand and supply management which is currently skewed to the detriment of domestic consumers. There has to be more transparency from all water boards in terms of both industrial and domestic consumption.
  • The speedy of resolution of frequent power supply interruptions at Bospoort Water Treatment plant.
  • The speedy resolution of water supply problems in the area of Makolokwe.
  • Putting pressure on the National Department of Water and Sanitation to finalise the Pilanesburg Water Scheme in order to secure an additional supply of 70 mega litres.

The task team is expected to give a preliminary report on the 1st April 2021.

Other interventions being done by the municipality on water supply challenges include the following:

  • The replacement of pumps at Geelhout Park and Tlhabane West reservoirs to ensure that the outflow from these installations is commensurate with demand. This also includes the replacement of pipeline in Tlhabane This is a project worth about R 17 million which has commenced and is expected to be completed in about two months.

It is expected that the project will alleviate supply problems especially to high lying areas of Tlhabane West.

  • The completion of internal reticulation project in Tlhabane especially in Ward 11. This project affects about 950 residents and a team has been appointed to expedite it. It will be completed in two months. A contingency plan will be implemented to provide water to residents.
  • The commissioning of revamped water reticulation system in Rustenburg CBD, Zinniaville and East End.
  • Augmentation of bulk water supply to both Lekgalong and Freedom Park.
  • As part of water conservation and demand management programme, installation of air valves and pressure reducing valves to minimise pipe bursts.
  • The acceleration of Kortbegrip water augmentation project to address water shortage at Modikwe, Barseba, Makolokwe and Bethanie.

1.6 Conclusion

We will give regular updates on all of this interventions.