City of Tshwane Water Saving Measures
Water security is one of the key challenges facing South Africa and the reduction of water losses forms an integral part of ensuring sustainable water supply.

The Challenge

Non-revenue water refers to water losses in the water distribution system prior to it reaching billable consumers. South African municipalities rely on water billing as a source of revenue, but revenue loss is exacerbated by non-revenue water issues such as leaking infrastructure, metering inaccuracies and illegal connections. It was estimated that the City of Tshwane’s non-revenue water loss may have been as high as 40%.


SMEC’s Management Services team was appointed by the City of Tshwane to pilot water conservation and demand management initiatives in Cullinan, Rayton, Refilwe and its surroundings in Pretoria; with the aim of optimising the use of existing resources before developing new resources and bulk infrastructure.


The pilot project is viewed by the National Department of Water and Sanitation and National Treasury as high priority, aimed to:

  • Reduce water leaks (known as recoverable real losses);
  • Improve consumption management and reduce over consumption; and
  • Optimise billing and revenue for the client and improve recovery performance.


The Solution

SMEC performed technical audits of existing infrastructure; conducted exploratory field investigations; logged water levels, flow and pressure at strategic locations and oversaw the appointment and supervision of three contractors who implemented the identified initiatives.


One of the key initiatives included the installation of auditable check meters and reservoir level probes, coupled with loggers that facilitate the remote monitoring of key metrics such as level, flow and consumption – this will enable improved water balance data, detection of reservoir overflows, excessive minimum night flows and leaks; thereby providing the platform for ongoing water conservation and demand management.


Another initiative that yielded promising water savings was the installation of water management devices at piloted schools. Installed water management devices can be set to completely cut off water supply to the properties during a pre-determined time (e.g. no-use periods such as weekends) or can be programmed to automatically switch off the supply if a constant flow is detected for a set period (usually indicating a persistent leak during night-time).


Below is an overview of key infrastructure installed and activities undertaken:

  • Installation of 10 battery operated EMF check meters ranging from 100mm to 400mm; and associated chambers, bunkers, and cathodic protection (in Cullinan, Rayton, Refilwe);
  • Installation of an additional 31 new bulk/check meters, ranging from 100mm to 700mm (outside Cullinan, Rayton, Refilwe);
  • Installation of 17 water meter inserts, in lieu of replacing an entire meter;
  • Repairs/civil works on 48 chambers;
  • Installation and commissioning of 139 of 300 loggers, for the above bulk meters;
  • Installation and commissioning of 5 reservoir level loggers;
  • Valve and water distribution system verification and audit, to assess the status quo of infrastructure and operations;
  • Pressure logging in pilot area to identify critical (high/low pressure) points;
  • Bulk consumer audit in preparation for procurement and installation of water saving devices – the audit included periodic collection of consumption data as well as meter infrastructure and property details;
  • Installation of programmable water management devices at piloted schools, yielding promising water savings;
  • Repairs to identified leaks, yielding significant water and monetary savings; and
  • Update of the Water Balance, with notable improvements in data inputs;


An additional focus point for SMEC was to ensure skills development and local community engagement. Key activities included:

  • Facilitation of skills development and training for local municipal officials from various Departments; in a range of technical, financial and operational subject matter;
  • Appointment of qualifying local residents to contribute via the Expanded Public Works Programme;
  • Appointment of qualifying local diploma students to gain practical experience;
  • Rollout of a Community Awareness and Education Plan Campaign to 500+ households – community participation, involvement and buy‐in into the pilot project was key to its ultimate success. Through the campaign, the City of Tshwane sought to involve the community in the conservation and wise usage of water of water; create a water sensitive attitude towards the management of water and associated resources/infrastructure; ensure accurate billing; reduce and avoid water losses; and ensure effective communication between City of Tshwane and the community.

The Impact


water savings per annum
$US saved per annum

SMEC adopted a holistic solution that incorporated capacity building, cost benefit analysis and innovative technical delivery. The project interventions exceeded the project objectives and resulted in several notable benefits including:

  • Increased system knowledge, including water distribution and critical point layout, which improved accuracy of water balance measurement;
  • Reduced water loss through the ability to remotely monitor inflow and reservoir levels;
  • Provision of auditable check meters to provide accurate System Input Volume (reduced water purchase);
  • Skills development and training of local municipal officials; and
  • Community engagement that led to a reduction in consumption and an improvement in meter reading data.

This project has deepened the client’s ability to understand and manage non-revenue water challenges. Rowan Griffioen, Project Director and Non-Revenue Water Specialist said:

As a result of this intervention, the City of Tshwane has already been able to save the equivalent of 320 Olympic-sized swimming pools per year, which can be translated into a monetary savings per annum of over ZAR 8,5-million. Further to this, it has been calculated that around 300g of CO² emissions are saved for every 1kl water leakage reduced which equates to a total of 24 tons of CO² emissions saved per annum.

Anticipated annual savings:

 Item Savings per annum (kl) Savings per annum (R)
Water Management Devices (all) 5 567 R171 282.99
Leaks Repaired 652 917 R6 790 331.70
Water Balance (corrections) 156 356 R1 626 103.27
Total 814 839 R8 587 717.96


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Talk to one of our specialists about our role on the City of Tshwane Water Saving Measures project.