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Drenched Wilgeheuwel Streets: Burst Pipes and Wasted Water



Selby Hlongwane and and Themba Gonwela outside their complex as the pipe is being repaired. Photo: Jarryd Westerdale

Recent occurrences of ruptured and leaking pipes have become disturbingly commonplace, with two such incidents happening within close proximity on the same street. The stage for this water spectacle was set on September 1 when Johannesburg Water (JW) initiated excavation activities alongside a residential development neighbouring the Extreme Park in Wilgeheuwel. As work crews toiled away, an astonishing meter-high geyser erupted at the opposite end of Lubbe Rouge Street, emanating from the very spot where a water pipe had been hastily repaired only weeks prior.

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In another unsettling incident, a pipe near Nic Diederichs Road had been spouting a continuous stream of water down the complex’s driveway for a full three days. This unfortunate situation left residents stranded and unable to access their homes on a Friday afternoon as labourers worked diligently to rectify the issue. After excavating a trench, a determined worker submerged waist-deep into the water to locate and ultimately repair the ruptured pipe, a task that stretched well into the evening hours.

Concurrently, on the same day, JW issued an official Spring Day statement imploring residents to curtail their water usage as demand surpassed supply capacity. Despite the Vaal Dam’s water level being reported at 86.6% as of August 28, the statement, citing Rand Water’s perspective, ominously warned that should consumption patterns persist unchecked, “extreme measures may have to be instituted.”

“The current high water consumption is a source of concern for JW,” the statement continued, “and residents are urged to reduce their usage. This coincides with the implementation of the City of Johannesburg’s level one water restrictions, which are in effect from September 1 to March 31 annually. These restrictions are necessitated by the rising water consumption driven by warmer weather and a scarcity of rainfall.”


Notably, despite inquiries made on September 4 regarding the volume of water lost due to these burst pipes, JW has yet to provide any information on the matter.

Adding to the challenges posed by this escalating problem is the strain placed on the process of reinstatements, which JW refers to as the restoration of affected sites to their original condition.

“Aging infrastructure exacerbates this issue, as the increase in pipe ruptures leads to more excavations,” explained Nolwazi Dlamini, the external communications officer at JW. “Resource availability, both financial and human, becomes a pressing concern. However, the organisation has extended the working hours of reinstatement teams, especially during weekends.”

Dlamini outlined the typical turnaround time for reinstatements, comprising five days for backfilling and an additional 10 days for tar reinstatements. She emphasised that some reinstatement projects may take longer to complete due to scheduling based on capacity. JW is grappling with a substantial backlog of reinstatements throughout the city and is striving to address this issue around the clock, engaging both internal teams and external service providers to expedite the process.

Under level one water restrictions, residents face prohibitions such as not watering their gardens between 06:00 and 18:00 from September 1 to March 31. Additionally, using hose pipes to wash paved areas and driveways is strictly prohibited.


The Spring Day statement stressed the urgency of adopting responsible water-saving practices, encouraging everyone to make incremental changes in their daily routines. Some of the recommended water-saving habits include:

  • Avoid leaving taps dripping.
  • Wash your car on the grass using grey water, simultaneously hydrating your lawn.
  • Shorten your shower duration.
  • Use a glass of water for rinsing while brushing your teeth.
  • Opt for shallow baths and avoid filling the tub beyond 100mm.
  • Reuse grey water for watering your garden or potted plants.
  • Promptly fix any plumbing fixtures in your home that are leaking.

Source: Burst pipes and wasted water drenching Wilgeheuwel streets

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Photo: Supplied by Roodepoort Record

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