Fixing the leaks in urban areas – The South African Experiences
The Water Research Commission and WRP Consulting Engineers will be hosting a session on the 20 March in Cape Town, ICC at 14:00 - 17H00 which will outline some of the water loss challenges facing South African municipalities and highlight how these problems have been tackled. This will form part of the World Water Day activities. Innovative developments in technology, research and policy, advanced pressure management, and water loss management will be discussed, as well as the importance of community awareness and as has been shown in practice that even the best technical interventions will fail if the communities they serve do not understand and support them.
South Africa is a developing country with a growing population which is reflected by the ever increasing demands for water, particularly in the urban areas which support the majority of almost 50 million residents. As a water scarce country, it is therefore important to ensure that all existing water resources developments are utilised efficiently before new schemes are approved and implemented.
One of the key issues that have been identified by the Government of South Africa relates to the water losses occurring from Municipal water supply systems. In some areas, the losses from the reticulation systems are unacceptable high and in extreme cases exceed the water used by the residents. Such losses are unacceptable, leading to a wide variety of interventions designed to reduce wastage and to encourage the efficient use of the available resources.
The issue of Water Demand Management (WDM) has been raised by various government organisations as a key issue that must now be addressed throughout South Africa both from a water and power viewpoint. It is no longer an option in many areas, but rather a critical element of the overall water supply strategy. In Gauteng, which is regarded as the powerhouse of the South African economy, for example, it will be necessary to implement Water Demand Management on a massive scale as well as develop a new water transfer schemes to keep pace with the growing demands. In this regard, South Africa is fortunate to have one of the most sophisticated water resource systems in the world to support the water requirements of its growing population which is fast approaching 50 million. Most of the major Metros and Municipalities are driving WDM in their areas of supply with a renewed urgency.
In the South African context, there is no single intervention that can be applied throughout the country and each area presents its own set of problems often requiring a complex range of WDM interventions. South Africa is regarded worldwide as a leader in Advanced Pressure Management for example and has three of the largest and most successful installations of their type in the world – two of which are located in Cape Town just a few kilometres from the city centre. Many other WDM projects have also been successfully implemented throughout the country and the momentum is growing to tackle water losses in every major urban centre.
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