Biggest S. Africa Water Utility Asks Users to Consume Sparingly

South Africa’s biggest water utility and municipalities of its largest city and capital asked users to consume sparingly as insufficient rains and persistent high temperatures curb supply.

High demand in the cities of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni to the east and Pretoria “will cause localized problems,” Rand Water Services Pty Ltd. said in an e-mailed statement Friday. “The lack of rainfall in Gauteng is exacerbating the situation,” it said, referring to the province in which the cities are located.

Rand Water serves about 12 million residents. More than 500,000 people in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal are facing severe hunger as a result of a drought, according to World Vision, a humanitarian organization.

If high usage persists, “we will reduce the volumes of water that go to those customers, so that levels in our reservoirs can pick up,” Justice Mohale, a spokesman for the utility, said by phone. “We will do it at night, and open the pumps up again the next morning at 3 a.m.”

This year’s low rainfall is likely the result of El Nino, a global weather pattern that causes dry conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, according to Anthony Turton, a professor at South Africa’s University of the Free State. The country is the 30th-driest nation on Earth with high evaporation levels due to its warm, sunny climate, according to the government.

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