SA loses 30% drinking water

2013-04-05 09:47
Msunduzi Municipality wastes 63% of its water, among the worst figures in the country, according to a Water Research Commission (WRC) report released recently. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Msunduzi Municipality wastes 63% of its water, among the worst figures in the country, according to a Water Research Commission (WRC) report released recently. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town – Provinces in South Africa on average experience a 30% water loss.

In a report entitled The State of Non-Revenue Water in South Africa that was published in 2012 the results of national water loss per province was given.

The study, which was conducted between 2007 and 2011, found that the Eastern Cape had a loss of (29%), Free State (45.2%), Gauteng (35.9%), KwaZulu-Natal (43.5%), Limpopo (36.3%), Mpumalanga (44.7%), North West (29.7%), Northern Cape (52.0%) and the Western Cape (23.9%).

“On average you'll find about a 30% plus water loss. This is a lot of water that is unaccounted for. When you help metros and cities fix these problems you give them more revenue to do other things for the people. By improving the loss of water revenue, and increasing such revenues accordingly, they can improve the maintenance and infrastructure," Ahmed Simjee, IBM South Africa Smarter Planet Executive, told News24.

“Besides the fact that we have a growing demand in our cities year on year, the cities have to do with an influx of people. We don’t have ‘new’ cities in South Africa, we have our old cities. So the infrastructure would be a very aged infrastructure.

"The technologies in many instances are old. It will help them to better plan their maintenance, repairs, upgrades, improvements and also cater for the additional demand they are subjected to,” Simjee said.

According to him we have to find ways to manage all those aspects.

“Fixing the old, catering for the new but also accordingly improve our town planning and resources that we have. We are not going to get more water from somewhere. We’ve got to use it more efficiently.”

"WaterWatchers" report

Citizens in Johannesburg have responded positively to the project IBM in collaboration with the City of Tshwane launched to help capture, share and analyse information about the water distribution system in South Africa.

The project was officially launched on 22 March 2013.

"Since the project launched we had 130 000 hits on the application until the end of last week,” Simjee said.

According to him 13 water leaks were flagged in the Johannesburg area "and the city of Tshwane has been very favourable and supportive in responding to these queries".

“They are doing the best that they can. This is just providing them information so that they can act on it accordingly,” Simjee said.

The project is driven by a new mobile phone application and SMS facility that will enable South African citizens to report water leaks, faulty water pipes and general conditions of water canals.

Every update will provide vital data points to an aggregated WaterWatchers report to create a single view of the issues challenging South Africa’s water distribution system.

The free app is available for download at IBM Water Watchers for Android OS and other operating systems will be made available.

Reporting can also be done via the SMS facility on 45946 as well as the website. These provide multiple ways for anyone to collect and report issues on local waterways and pipes to a centralised portal.

“This project is about analysing use, predicting demand and managing the future of our country’s water,” Simjee said. 

He said people need to download the application and actively participate because it is their voices and it is the best way for them to get their voices and problems heard.

Water revenue

“We are looking at the metro's sources of income. If we look at published statistics and records around water waste or non revenue water recordings we loose about R7bn a year nationally.

“Seven billion rand of water is wasted or not accounted for in revenue. Now it could be by way of leakages, faulty meters, misreading on meters etc. If people don't pay for the water they received, it is a revenue lost for that metro."

He said it could in some instances also be that the municipalities don’t know where the leaks and burst pipes are.

On the question how South Africans can help solve the water issues in South Africa, Simjee said citizens can start by taking advantage of an initiative like this.

– Follow Chantelle on Twitter.
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