Water wise


Phase-I of the City of Johannesburg water infrastructure upgrade and renewal project to the value of R1.7 billion, will save the city R700 million.

The project commenced in Soweto in 2004 with the objective to tackle massive physical losses from pipe leakages and pipe bursts and commercial losses from deemed consumption at a flat rate to prepaid metering through fixing and repairing internal plumbing and pipe replacement.

Before the implementation of Phase-I in Soweto, more about 40% of the water supplied to Soweto was lost through physical (i.e. pipe leakages) and commercial losses (i.e. cost recovery). As a result of the intervention, the average water consumption dropped from 66 kilolitres per household per month to 12, an improvement of more than 80%.

Prior to the project, Johannesburg Water purchased 469 billion litres per annum from Rand Water for the entire City, of which 129 billion litres (27.5%) per annum were supplied to Soweto.

The City is currently buying 573 billion litres per annum of which 131 (23%) are supplied to Soweto. About 90% of water supplied to Soweto was billed on a flat rate of R169 per household per month regardless of the amount of water consumed with only 15% of flat rate payments realised,” says JW Managing Director, Lungile Dhlamini.

According to Dhlamini, Johannesburg Water expects to save about R222 million per annum (equivalent to 40.5 billion litres per annum) from bulk purchases when Phase-I of the project nears completion in December 2015. He says R1.1 billion of the R1.7 billion has been invested since 2004.

Dhlamini says the project will be extended to other deemed consumption areas (unmetered areas billed on a flat rate) including Orange Farm and Ivory Park. The main objective is to change the behaviour of water consumers to conserve water and pay for the water consumed through prepaid metering.”

The Water Reconciliation Strategy Study conducted by the Directorate: National Water Resource Planning of the Department of Water and Sanitation forecast that water demand will outstrip supply by 2020 if we do nothing to conserve water, Dhlamini says.

Despite resistance over the implementation of Phase-I which culminated in a Constitutional Court ruling in favour of the City of Johannesburg, the company is forging ahead by conducting on-going education and awareness, public meetings and door to door campaigns at the start and during the phases of the project where households then commit by signing a service level agreement where a success rate of about 85% for Phase-I has been realised.

Thus far, Johannesburg Water has successfully installed 131 244 prepaid meters and replaced 144 kilometres of pipes in Soweto including fixing of internal plumbing.

Meter tampering and by-passing however, remains a major challenge resulting in under recovery of revenue. Penalties in the form of fines are imposed for meter tampering and education sessions held at community level to change behaviour.

(City of Johannesburg)

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This edition

Issue 68