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In an unprecedented move, the City of Johannesburg has launched an innovative low-flush system that will significantly reduce water consumption and demand.

The system was unveiled by Executive Mayor Cllr Parks Tau during the Tirisano Mmogo campaign in Meadowlands, Soweto, on Tuesday July 12.

Also at the launch were Members of the City’s Mayoral Committee such as Cllrs Matshidiso Mfikoe (Environment and Infrastructure Services), Christine Walters (Transport), Ros Greeff (Development Planning), Chris Vondo (Community Development), Ruby Mathang (Economic Development) and Mally Mokoena (Group Corporate and Shared Services), as well senior officials of Joburg Water.

The City is in the process of rolling out 10 000 low-flush cisterns to save water. Households with the conventional 9-litre cisterns use on average 29% of their water in flushing their toilets.
Mayor Tau said the 4.5-litre low-flush cisterns would conserve water and reduce demand by 580 mega litres annually.

“We looked at Johannesburg’s water demand and found that unless dramatic steps were taken to reduce [it], we wouldn’t have enough water to meet the demands of our ever-growing population. Interventions by the City aimed at minimising wastage and reducing consumption have ensured that despite the population growing by 120 000 annually, Johannesburg has sufficient water and I can confidently say that by furthering our efforts and reducing water wastage, our comprehensive plan to guarantee people their water going forward will deliver,” said Mayor Tau.

He said before the City’s water reduction initiatives, Soweto was consuming 96 000 mega litres of water annually, which over 10 years would have, considering the population growth, risen to 136 000 mega litres.

“Our initiatives have seen Soweto reduce its consumption to 69 000 mega litres despite the massive population growth,” he said.

The rollout of the cisterns forms part of the City’s ongoing Soweto Infrastructure and Rehabilitation Project, which has already yielded massive water savings as a result of the upgrading of secondary mains infrastructure, replacement of 900km of water piping, retrofitting leaking plumbing fixtures and installation of prepaid meters.

Tau added that despite Johannesburg’s population increasing, Rand Water’s water allocation for Johannesburg had remained the same as 10 years ago. There was also talk of reducing the allocation in the wake of the drought.

“Our Blue Economy initiatives aim at growing our economy while using available resources in new and innovative ways. On completion of Phase one of this project, it is envisioned that 580 mega litres of water, which are equivalent to R3,5-million, will be saved annually,” said Mayor Tau.

Phase one of the project is being implemented in Mapetla, Slovoville, Meadowlands and Dobsonville, all in Soweto.

“To further enhance and benefit the community, we’re rolling out the fitment of the low-flush cisterns through the Jozi@Work programme. Phase one has already seen 16 SMMEs being supported and the creation of 160 jobs for plumbers and labourers. As we save water we’re creating jobs and building better lives,” he said.

Sixty-four-year-old Rose “Vivi” Hlatshwayo said the low-flush cistern in her home had resulted in massive savings.

“I’m very impressed with the system,” said Hlatshwayo. “Another beauty is that children will no longer play with the cistern handle and waste water.”