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Hlengiwe Cele 

Water-efficient devices not widely used in SA

Uptake of water-efficient devices across South Africa is generally described as low. This was a finding from a WRC study that surveyed the use of water-efficient devices in commercial environments and public institutions such as schools, prisons and hospitals, as well as shopping complexes and the hospitality industry.

Dave Still of Partners in Development (PID) led the 2008 study, which defined water-efficient devices as ones that serve the same function as their standard alternatives without any reduction in performance, while using less water.  In most cases devices that contribute to water wastage are toilets, showers, washing machines, basins, baths and taps.

According to Jay Bhagwan, WRC Executive Manager for Water Use and Waste Management, manufacturers have always thought of water as a cheap and abundant resource, which is unfortunately not the case. The world’s population has increased fourfold in the last century, and will at least double in the century to come.  Water demand has increased, especially with the emergence of megacities – sprawling densely-populated urban areas with populations numbering in the tens of millions. Gauteng alone is set to reach 20 million by 2025.

Only 29% of the respondents to the study indicated that they had fitted one or more water-efficient device. Of the 10 cities sampled, Pretoria had the highest uptake of water-efficient devices, with 64% of homesteads fitted with at least one such device. Pretoria, Hermanus and Garies were found to be more aware of water conservation than other cities, with more than 50% of households with gardens practicing four or more water-wise strategies. Durban had the lowest percentage of water-wise gardening households, with only 9% of gardeners implementing water-saving strategies.

At the time of this research, one shopping mall in Johannesburg was still testing a censor flush urinal. Most of the shopping malls in South Africa had no water-efficient devices installed and in some instances management indicated that they would only consider doing so if there was some incentive or proven financial benefit to doing so. Only one shopping mall in KwaZulu-Natal had installed water-efficient devices.

The project team suggests municipal or government intervention to encourage the consideration of water efficient devices within the domestic sector to make a significant impact on potable water demand in the future.

Tips on the choice of water efficient devices are highlighted in the WRC Report TT 358/08 entitled “The status and use of drinking water conservation and savings devices in the domestic and commercial environments in South Africa”. 

Article compiled by Hlengiwe Cele, Stakeholder Liaison Email: hlengiwec@wrc.org.za


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