Joburg loses R1bn of water every year

13 May 2015 - 02:30 By Olebogeng Molatlhwa and Shaun Smillie

Johannesburg is losing 229658 megalitres of water a year, enough to fill 91863 Olympic-size swimming pools due to illegal connections and leaks in the dilapidated infrastructure. Up to 40% of Johannesburg's water goes unaccounted for annually, costing the city R1.16-billion in the year ending June 30. About R851-million of water was lost to leaks and R308.6-million was due to illegal connections.The city is failing to reduce demand for water, with its 4.8million residents consuming 574145 megalitres annually or 1573 megalitres daily. This is despite a warning that the city would be unable to ensure a reliable supply of water to residents in future, unless it reduced demand to within 450000 megalitres.The city had until this year to reach the threshold but it has been on the back foot since 2012, when demand for water was recorded at 536000 megalitres a year.From 2012, the city has budgeted R100-billion over 10 years to:Retrofit household plumbing fixtures;Install smart meters;Replace 900km of pipes; andReduce water demand from the upper Vaal catchment.Millicent Kabwe of Joburg Water said: "The impact is visible. Water demand grew on average by 2.4% annually. In this current financial year, it grew 0.6%, which gives us an indication that the city is on its way to reducing demand."An independent 2013 report found Cape Town had the lowest water loss rate (20.7%), followed by Tshwane (23.8%), eThekwini (35.6%), Johannesburg (37.8%), Mangaung (39.5%), Ekurhuleni (40.8%), Nelson Mandela Bay (43.1%) and Buffalo City (47.7%).eThekwini Municipality's head of water and sanitation, Ednick Msweli, said recently that the municipality lost about R445-million a year as a result of leaking or burst pipes. A further R157-million is lost to water theft or problems with billing.The auditor-general's report on the municipality, released in January, said that 237million litres a day were lost to leaks.Cape Town's mayoral committee member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg, said it was currently losing 20.28% of its water."The city's non-revenue water for the financial year 2013/14 amounted to 43784414 kilolitres. Technical losses amounted to 16715511kl or R57.17-million while non-technical losses amounted to 27068904kl or R92.56-million," said Sonnenberg.AfriForum yesterday released its Blue and Green Drop reports for 2015, which showed improvements in the quality of drinking water across the country.Water in 132 towns was tested and only five municipalities did not comply with quality standards. Last year the number stood at 11.Additional reporting by Matthew Savides and Aphiwe Deklerk

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