South Africa losing 37% of water through leaks

13 April 2017

South Africa is facing its worst drought in 100 years but 37% of the country’s water supply is lost through leaks, according to a report.

GreenCape’s Water: Market Intelligence Report 2017 said that unless new supplies were developed and more money ploughed into existing infrastructure, South Africa would face a water deficit of between 7% and 22% by 2030 if current trends continue.

The country currently uses around 15bn cubic metres of water a year and by 2030 could be facing a deficit of between 1bn and 3bn cubic metres.

This also means that the market for developing ways to reuse water is increasingly lucrative. The market for industrial water reuse in the Western Cape is worth R600m and expected to grow rapidly.

In 2016 94% of South African companies reported water as a direct risk to their operations, a figure which the report said was the highest of any country in the world.

With the water infrastructure sector requiring investment of R855bn in the next decade, the sector is becoming increasingly attractive for investors, according to the report.

It said the biggest drivers behind the uptake of green water technologies in South Africa were rising water costs, growing scarcity, increased business risks, compliance requirements and increasing consumer demand for more sustainable products.

Meanwhile, Zambia last year reported that it failed to capture water from rainfall efficiently and lacked the infrastructure to store for use during dry spells.

The country receives 160bn cubic metres of rainfall annually but only captures 60bn of this while the rest washes away.

A government-led project funded by a $50m World Bank loan aims to stop the waste by constructing 15 dams and 300 exploratory boreholes around the country.

And earlier this year scientists from Kenya’s Meru University of Science and Technology released a mobile irrigation application that aims to help farmers cut water wastage from 70% to 10%.

The app monitors farms’ water requirements and controls irrigation equipment to ensure crops are irrigated evenly.

Traditional methods of watering crops using cans and buckets is inefficient and leads to some crops getting too much water and others getting too little, the developers believe.

The app comes with sensors that are placed in a field to monitor moisture levels. If the field is too dry the sensors communicate with a solar-powered control unit that releases more water from a water tank.

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