‘No Drop’: SA to tackle its water leaks

25 October 2013

The Department of Water and Environmental Affairs is to publish a new, incentive-based “No Drop” report giving South African municipalities and residents a clear idea of how much water they’re using – and how much they’re wasting.

“The aim of the report will be to increase water efficiency and leakage reduction from water supply networks, and will add to the already established Green Drop and Blue Drop reports,” department spokesperson Linda Page said this week.

Page said the first No Drop report would be published next year, with assessments due to be conducted across all municipalities in South Africa from October to March, with subsequent reports to be carried out every two years thereafter.

The No Drop Report will publish audited values pertaining to water use and management in each local municipality, reporting such figures as part of the Blue Drop scorecard, which measures the quality of South Africa’s drinking water.

R7.2bn a year ‘leaking away’

“Research data from 132 (of 237 municipalities), representing 75% of the total volume of municipal water supply, show that the current level of non-revenue water is estimated at 36.7%, of which 25.4% is considered to be losses through physical leakages,” Page said.

In South Africa, the 30th driest country in the world, water losses are estimated to cost the economy R7.2-billion per year. According to estimates in the National Treasury’s 2012 Budget Review, South Africa’s water demand will outstrip its supply by 2030.

Page said the department expected to find pockets of excellence with regards to efficient water usage in the country, while special interventions to address inefficiencies would be required in other municipalities.

She admitted that technical ineptitude and ageing infrastructure were causing severe water losses countrywide.

“Inadequate maintenance and repairs of existing infrastructure, long response time to water leaks, and a culture of water wastage are some of the challenges facing the South African water sector,” Page said.

‘War on Leaks’ project

The No Drop Report will add to the department’s “War on Leaks” project, which is geared towards getting municipalities and communities to report and fix water leaks.

“If you know your facts, then you can work out where you have problems and know how to improve. This is where the No Drop Report will be helpful,” Roy Tombs, operations manager at Mpumalanga water provider Sembcorp Silulumanzi, told SAnews this week.

“It’s a very clear system for determining whether you are investing in the best infrastructure and practices, and whether you have the correct people employed to deal with issues of water loss and management.”

Tombs added that, in the coming years, he expected the system to evolve and gain more credibility.

In her 2013/14 budget vote on 21 May, Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa singled out behavioural patterns as the biggest contributors to water wastage.

“We are losing our clean drinking water in the distribution system due to leaking pipes, dripping taps and illegal water use,” Molewa said. “These are all behavioural patterns that have a negative impact on the use of water.”

Source: SAnews.gov.za