Residents of the township of Soweto, South Africa, queue for water on March 16, 2024 as Johannesburg experiences severe water shortages.
JohannesburgCNN — 

When Duane Riley turns on his taps, they shudder loudly from the air flowing through the pipes. There’s often no water trickling at all.

It’s ironic, because Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city, has plenty of water at the moment — authorities and water companies just can’t seem to get it to where it’s needed.

“There have been times where we’ve had no water, but I’ve had a river gushing down my driveway, because there was a leak at the top of our street,” Riley told CNN. It took authorities 14 days to fix it, he said.

Joburgers — as residents here call themselves — are no strangers to water scarcity. South Africa is naturally dry, and the climate crisis has hit the nation many times with crippling drought.

Johannesburg is one of many of the world’s big cities that are dealing with a perfect storm of crumbling critical infrastructure, lack of maintenance, corruption and insufficient planning for population growth.

While drought can hurt the city’s reservoirs, the dams are currently full, authorities say. But climate change is making things worse in another way — officials say a weeks-long heat wave is boosting water demand in enormous volumes. In February, Southern Africa saw temperatures of 4 to 5 degrees Celsius (around 7 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit) above average.

At around 9 p.m., Riley’s home typically loses water until around six in the morning.

“But there have been multiple times where we’ve been without water for five, seven days,” he said.

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