The plumbing industry plays a central role in managing water demand

In less than 10 years, demand for water is expected to exceed supply in South Africa. It is therefore also the responsibility of households and businesses to use water efficiently to help avoid this looming crisis. Implementing efficient plumbing systems is a critical first step in the water management hierarchy, which prioritizes specific interventions to conserve water.

“Addressing leaks and installing water-efficient plumbing fixtures and fittings on properties are the easiest and most cost-effective three levels of the water management hierarchy to implement. By focusing first on improving the efficiency of existing plumbing systems, some premises were able to reduce water demand by more than 50%. This is before implementing the following levels of the water management hierarchy to further reduce reliance on municipal supplies. These levels include reuse or recycling of water; outsourcing of water through methods such as rainwater harvesting; and reclamation or treatment of wastewater before it is reused, ”said Brendan Reynolds, Executive Director of the Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA).

IOPSA-accredited plumbers are trained to properly repair leaky pipes and faulty plumbing systems, as well as install new water-efficient fittings. This is in addition to the skills and experience needed at later levels of the water management hierarchy. These include the ability to properly and safely connect gray water and treated groundwater sources directly into buildings for specific applications. Members of the association have therefore worked with many engineers across the country on “greening” projects that have helped, among others, households, businesses, educational institutions and schools to reduce their dependence on networks. in high demand.

Among these water efficiency projects are those that were undertaken in Cape Town to help roll back ‘Day Zero’ as the city was predicted to run out of water during the worst drought in the Western Cape. for over 100 years. While the situation has since returned to normal in the city, many parts of the province, including towns in the Greater Karoo, are still experiencing severe water shortages due to the relentless drought.

There has also been a noticeable growth in demand for water efficient plumbing in other provinces, given the important role it plays in lowering municipal water utility bills. This has helped encourage homeowners and businesses to use water more efficiently. This trend is believed to persist unabated as water costs continue to triple. Municipal water costs have risen four times faster than inflation, and in 2020 they were almost 1,300% higher than in 1996. These charges, including the basic water charge, currently represent the second largest component of municipal bills after electricity. they compose

up to 28.2% and 17% of the municipal bill of low-income and high-income households, respectively.

The demand for efficient plumbing is also driving significant innovations in plumbing systems by international manufacturers. For example, companies have made great strides in improving the efficiency of toilets and flushing toilets. Such a flushing mechanism is capable of saving about 5,000 l of water per month for households and large premises occupied by many people, such as schools, up to 16,000 l of water per month. “Older toilets use up to 13L of water per flush and regular toilets now use around 6L per flush. Toilets remain the largest consumer of water in households. Flushes account for almost 30% of the indoor water consumption of an average home, hence the emphasis placed on this aspect of plumbing by many international manufacturers to help reduce water demand ” , he said.

Another major innovation in efficient plumbing is low flow showerhead technology. These plumbing fixtures consume around 10l per minute compared to 15l of water used per minute by conventional shower heads. They work either by restricting the flow of water and forcing it through very small openings on the shower head, or by mixing air into the flow. The latter, which is the more popular of the two types of low-flow showerheads, works similarly to faucet aerators. Although simple and easy to install, faucet aerators have a marked impact on household and property water consumption by reducing the flow of water from faucets.

Meanwhile, efficient faucets are able to further reduce the amount of water used in bathroom and kitchen sinks. A conventional bathroom and kitchen faucet dispenses approximately 8.3 L of water per minute compared to 5.6 L of water per minute for newer water efficient faucets.

Another benefit of these technologies is the role they play in reducing wear and tear on pipes and fittings by reducing flow rates – if properly installed and maintained by qualified plumbers.

IOPSA continues to work closely with many municipalities across the country to promote the efficient use of water in their jurisdictions. This by ensuring that homeowners and businesses always use the services of qualified plumbers to install, maintain and repair plumbing systems that have been certified by the relevant authorities for quality standards.

“The Ministry of Water and Sanitation has long recognized the role of plumbing in reducing water demand. He therefore developed model water service bylaws to help municipalities ensure the efficient use of water in their territory. These model statutes of service are clear about the tasks that can be performed by qualified plumbers. IOPSA is helping some municipalities to implement these model water service bylaws to ensure the

the highest standard of plumbing manufacturing so that our precious water resources are used responsibly by voters, ”concludes Reynolds.