City above average on pipe leaks

2018-02-20 06:00

With reference to the City of Cape Town’s often criticised response-time to water leaks and pipe bursts, I’d like to state the following:

On average, the City’s first-level response teams will attend to a service request which has been formally logged on the City’s system (please ensure to note your reference number) within two hours.

First-level responders will assess the situation and, if possible, fix the leak. For more serious pipe bursts, they will switch the water supply off at the mains before calling in a specialist team. Our official overall water losses as at October 2017 is 16% and this includes losses through water theft and meter inaccuracies.

The national average for overall water losses is 36%. This is a feat and the result of years of hard work aimed at conserving water.

In general, we receive over 700 calls relating to water per day, of which some are only enquiries and not reports of leaks or bursts. Work is always done according to priority, based on the scale and scope of the incident.

The effects of some leaks are worse than others. For instance, a burst pipe could lose much more water than a leak at a water meter or fire hydrant. As there are almost 11 000 km of water pipeline across the metro, the City must balance staffing resources and therefore leaks are prioritised. Sometimes, what looks like a massive leak to a member of the public is smaller in terms of actual water losses than another leak which the City may be busy fixing in another area.

Every drop counts and any water wastage is regrettable.

However, there are times where a smaller leak must be left to run for longer so that we can attend to a bigger leak elsewhere.

The City has made large strides in the past decade to reduce water losses.

Repair teams have been streamlined, and a focus on preventative maintenance has reduced the burst rate from 63.9 bursts per 100 km of piping in the 2010/2011 financial year to currently below 30 bursts per 100 km according to our most recent figures.

All water that is lost is unfortunate, but on a water network that would stretch from here to Australia it is unrealistic to think that every leak could be eliminated. The City is, however, making every effort to reduce the water loss to an absolute minimum.

We thank our active communities for helping to report leaks and bursts. We can only get through this drought by working together.

Peter Flower Director: Water and Sanitation, City of Cape Town

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