Smart tech, responsible behaviour turn tide on water scarcity
No one will argue that water is a precious commodity, growing ever more scarce. Over time, it's likely to become more and more expensive, requiring individuals, companies and governments to use it more efficiently.
This is particularly important in South Africa, because, per the World Wildlife Fund's 2016 report: "Water: Facts and Futures... Rethinking South Africa's Water Future", as much as "37% of water in our urban piped water systems leaks out or is used illegally". That's more than a third of our water, down the drain.
Part of the movement towards smarter water management is technology, while another part is human behaviour. Recently, these have shown the potential to marry in the real world, brought together by prepaid water meters. This is what's suggested by Sebata Municipal Solutions' successful year-long pilot project at urban lifestyle development Savanna City, in Johannesburg South.
In a collaboration between the Midvaal Municipality, Savanna City, and Sebata, 350 prepaid water units were installed 12 months ago, comprising water meters, above-ground boxes, and water management devices.
Customers welcomed the project, opting to purchase their own water and manage their consumption. Additionally, homeowners quickly became aware of leaks and wastage on their properties and in their homes. Within three months, there was a significant reduction in water usage: up to 600 000 litres.
Says Deon Craytor, Sebata COO: "It's evident that smart water technology can serve as a catalyst in controlling usage, but it's equally clear that education on water conservation is critical and should form part of any roll-out."
Craytor continues: "We enjoyed community awareness and support from the start. As with any project in local government, if you have the backing of the people, the project will always be a success."
In a nutshell, while prepaid water meters are an effective way to reduce water wastage, they're also a route to more responsible behaviours when it comes to consumption, because users tend to take personal ownership of the issue.
On the topic of why Midvaal chose Sebata's prepaid water units for Savanna City, Craytor says: "The Sebata prepaid water meter solution is considered one of the leading products in the world and it's proudly South African."
Johan Vorster, Savanna City Development Project Manager, agrees: "Sebata Municipal Solutions offers a full service, including supply, installation, operation and management, in order not to split the responsibilities within the system."
Vorster elaborates: "Looking to the future, I believe that more controlled water consumption can help to further transform Midvaal, because the financial savings from lower consumption can be channelled towards other infrastructure."
Similarly, Sebata Group Holdings CEO, Dylan Strydom, also sees the pilot project as a boon for Midvaal's job creation drive and development: "With the successful completion of this project, Sebata looks ahead to further participation in helping to convert Midvaal into a thriving business hub."