WaterCAN asks public to help track water leaks and “billing for air”

WaterCAN asks public to help track water leaks and “billing for air”

We’re building a map to track water leaks and lack of water across the country, and running a survey to assess the prevalence of faulty water meters that bill for air.

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Fed up with water leaks, taps with no water and meters that measure air as well as water usage? WaterCAN is compiling data on these and would like the public to help  us to assess the extent of the situation, so we can use this to put pressure on authorities such as the Department of Water and Sanitation to act.

The No Water / Leaks Map: Promoting transparency

In an effort to hold municipalities accountable and foster transparency in water services, WaterCAN introduces the No Water / Leaks Map. This innovative online portal allows people to log incidents of water shortages and leaks in their areas across the country. The map will not only serve as a real-time indicator of water-related issues but can also be used to track the time it takes for municipalities to resolve these problems.

“The water  woes in South Africa are affecting people in different ways,” says Dr Ferrial Adam, Executive Manager at WaterCAN. “We believe that mapping these leaks and tracking water cuts will empower communities and ensure a transparent approach to water services.”

The Department of Water and Sanitation’s recent No Drop report reported that 47.4% of treated water supplied is non-revenue water. Non-revenue water is treated water that is bought or produced by the water services provider or municipality for which that entity gets no revenue. This is caused by physical losses (water leaks), poorly functioning or non-existent water meters, illegal connections and poor billing and revenue collection. It does not include free basic water, as that is accounted for elsewhere. Non-revenue water causes significant losses, as infrastructure such as dams and water treatment plants are built to capture and process the water, but no revenue is collected. It is estimated that the country loses almost R28 billion in non-revenue water.

“We encourage everyone to please use our No Water / Leaks Map, and log when you do not have water or when there is a water leak. This will not solve the issue but it will help us to track and monitor the situation over a long period and help us to hold the relevant authorities to account in hotspot areas,” says Adam.

To access the No Water / Leaks Map please click here.

Survey on billing for air: Uncovering a widespread issue

WaterCAN is conducting a nationwide survey to understand the extent of billing irregularities related to air in water pipes which causes false readings in water meters. Recent discussions with the South Hills community in the south of Johannesburg have highlighted concerns about residents being charged exorbitant amounts on their water usage, but upon further investigation finding that it is due to air passing through their water meters.

“Many people have raised this issue with us at WaterCAN saying they are being charged for air running though their water meters, especially when there has been a burst pipe in their region, or during water shifting, leaving them with exorbitant amounts to pay for something they did not use. Often it is very difficult to resolve this dispute with the municipality,” says Adam.

To participate in our survey, click here.

Our view is to get a national picture to show that this is not an isolated issue. We will evaluate the outcome of the survey every two weeks and share the information publicly. As individuals, we are weak to challenge this air billing but as a collective we have a stronger voice to be heard. This has been going on for years and someone in government has to listen.

What we’re doing with the data

WaterCAN believes that the No Water / Leaks Map and the survey will shed light on the challenges faced by communities, providing valuable data as a basis for advocating for change and ensuring equitable water services for all.

“Monitoring this information is crucial as it provides us with insights into hotspots and reveals the extent to which fundamental human rights are being overlooked. This data underscores the urgent need for the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) to recognise the crisis in the country’s water situation and adopt a proactive ‘war room’ approach to address and resolve the pressing issues,” says Dr Adam.


About WaterCAN:
WaterCAN is a dedicated environmental organisation committed to preserving and protecting South Africa’s water resources. With a mission to promote responsible water management and raise awareness about water quality, the organisation empowers communities to become proactive stewards of their local water sources. If you would like to support our work, kindly Donate Here.

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