The eThekwini water reticulation system’s aged and leaking pipes currently lose 90 000 kilolitres daily. This motivated the City to invest in a multimillion rand replacement programme to ensure that eThekwini has sufficient water for the future.
According to eThekwini Water and Sanitation (EWS) head Neil Macleod, the Non-Revenue Water branch embarked on a focused programme to identify and treat the problem at source. “With water demand rising and leaks escalating due to the old pipe infrastructure, we realised 18 months ago that quick action was essential to prevent demand exceeding supply,” he says. In the 2009 financial year R37.3 million was invested in specific water loss reduction projects and another R65 million has been budgeted for the current year.
Among the 16 dedicated interventions for curtailing water loss is the extensive Asbestos Cement (AC) Pipe Replacement programme with the new pipes expected to provide at least 50 years of sound service to the municipality. EWS has also improved the customer billing service to minimise anomalies. More than 3 020 water meters that were installed in the 1970s and earlier have already been replaced and the new meters are monitored to ensure accurate measurements.
“Pressure management has proved to be one of the most effective interventions,” Macleod continues. “By reducing the water pressure we can reduce water loss by 70 million litres each day and every R1 million invested in pressure management translates into a R3 million saving on water losses.”
He says that one year into the programme improvements in reducing the City’s water losses are already evident and these are attributed to the persistent efforts to replace worn or faulty mains, reduce pressure and detect and repair leaks and bursts.
“Although it’s too early to confirm a trend we are delighted to see the benefits and encouraged that our work is reaping rewards. This is no quick fix but in 18 to 36 months we should see the cumulative benefit of the work being done,” says Macleod.