Turning water losses into money saved

Water conservation partnership project of Emfuleni Municipality, GIZ and Sasol ready to get started on the 8th September 2011.

The Emfuleni Municipality, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of German, British and Australian Governments and Sasol signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the Emfuleni Water Conservation Project on the 29th May 2012 at Metsi-A-Lekoa.



Chief Director for Emfuleni’s Metsi-a-Lekoa water services unit, Thembi Mkhize, explained the environmental and financial importance of this partnership: “The 3-year project aims to significantly reduce the amount of water wasted through leakages and save Emfuleni money lost through this unaccounted for water.  The municipality aims through this partnership to reduce their total water loss by 15%. By the end of the third year, this would equate to an annual reduction of 12 million kilolitres (12 billion litres) or R 62 million in value, compared to the 2010 baseline”. The water conservation and demand management project was officially launched at a side event to the Gauteng Water Sector Forum, currently underway at Gallagher Estate.

Water is among the most valuable resources on the African continent. The current demand far exceeds sustainable supply levels. Water planners forecast that South Africa will increasingly face severe water shortage if the usage is not reduced immediately. At the southern tip of Africa’s inland water supply lies the Orange-Senqu catchment area which provides parts of South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Namibia with water. One of the largest water supply systems to this region is the Vaal River system, a tributary of the Orange River (which originates as the Senqu in Lesotho). The large population of Gauteng and surrounding areas and approximately 60 per cent of South Africa’s economy relies on water from the Integrated Vaal River system.  Extensive studies conducted by the National Department of Water Affairs have shown that the current water use from this water supply system is not sustainable.  To address this growing imbalance the National Department of Water Affairs has set a 15% water savings target for municipalities located in the region to be achieved collectively by 2014.

The partnership project does not only aim to fix leakages in public and private water systems, but also intends to increase public awareness of water issues and conservation measures through school and community education programmes. Apart from the local importance this intervention also carries a regional aspect. “As Emfuleni sources its water from the Orange-Senqu catchment area, water which is saved in this municipality can be used somewhere else where water might be needed”, says Lenka Thamae, Executive Secretary of the Orange-Senqu River Commission. “Moreover, after successful implementation of the project, the design and idea can be replicated in many other municipalities in Southern Africa which face the same challenges as Emfuleni.”

This partnership serves as another example for the importance of the involvement of business in development. Through partnerships such as the Emfuleni Water Conservation Project a win-win situation is created for the involved parties. The Emfuleni municipality, GIZ Transwater SADC and Sasol can all benefit from the know-how and the skills of their partners. Moreover, partnerships are of special importance to the private sector as they demonstrate collective action on a shared risk in a sound economic, social and environmental way.

Sasol New Energy’s Manager for Sustainable Water, Andries Meyer, explains the importance of the partnership for the company: “Water management is a key priority for our business as a critical resource for our operations. Through this partnership, we can minimise unnecessary water losses from the Vaal system and ensure that the water security and availability to all users is improved. The Emfuleni water conservation partnership is part of Sasol New Energy’s water stewardship programme and underlines our commitment to sustainable water management.”

About Emfuleni: An estimated 1,2 Million citizens make Emfuleni Municipality the fourth largest municipality in Gauteng. The municipality gets its water from the Vaal River System. Water losses from potable water distribution systems remains a major issue when examining the overall water wasted throughout the country. Emfuleni Local Municipality is one of the Water Service Authorities in Gauteng that have realized the importance of managing their leakage and other aspects of non-revenue water and begin to implement water demand management measures to address the aforementioned challenges and strive towards a more financially viable municipality.

About GIZ: GIZ is owned by the Federal Republic of Germany. Through its operations around the globe, it supports the German Government in the fields of international cooperation for sustainable development and international education. GIZ supports people and societies in shaping their own future and improving their living conditions. In this partnership, GIZ operates through SADC and ORASECOM and on behalf of Germany, the United Kingdom and Australia.

About Sasol:  Sasol, a technology-driven alternative fuels and chemicals company was formed in 1950 at Sasolburg and celebrated 60 years of operations in 2010.  Today Sasol has grown to become South Africa’s leading fuel provider and an international player in the energy and chemicals sectors.  Sasol converts gas and coal into liquid fuels, fuel components and chemicals through its proprietary processes.  The company mines coal in South Africa and produces gas in Mozambique and oil in Gabon, and has chemical manufacturing and marketing operations in South Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas.  Sasol operates in 38 countries and employs about 33 000 people.  The company is listed on the JSE Limited in South Africa and on the New York Stock Exchange.

By Stanley Gaba

Important Numbers