The growing strain on the water infrastructure in SA can be vastly improved with the introduction of modern technologies to address wastage, supply, faulty meters and service interruptions.

“We successfully tested an Internet of Things (IoT) solution at a district municipality in 2020. It improved billing as leaking or faulty meters were detected and repaired significantly faster than the existing, manual, fault reporting system could. Accurate billing is a particular challenge which our pilot project addressed. In view of recent and growing problems around water supply in multiple towns and cities in South Africa, this technology could be the differentiator to improve delivery to residents,” says Vusi Mngomezulu, Head of Sales at IoT.nxt.

International publication Water World reported that many utilities still track devices and data manually. “This outdated and inefficient process can lead to old, inaccurate and incomplete measurements of data and assets. When upgrading, utilities need to think about how to scale to thousands — or even millions — of sensors, water meters and valves. When handled correctly, the infrastructure update can unlock new insights and reach unprecedented levels of efficiency.”

According to Mngomezulu, this is exactly what the IoT.nxt solution, developed in partnership with Vodacom, can deliver.

“The fact that large metropolitan areas introduced water restrictions in October this year, although dams are at acceptable levels, shows that a new approach is urgently required. Installing sensors to monitor all aspects of water management provides accurate, real-time data that water utility managers can use to improve efficiencies,” he says.

Ageing and poorly maintained infrastructure have been listed as the key factors of the escalating water supply problems in South Africa. “Yes, maintenance and upgrades are needed but our technology-agnostic solution makes it possible to connect legacy systems to the network and improve operations immediately while upgrades, replacement and maintenance projects run concurrently,” Mngomezulu says.

IoT.nxt also piloted another water solution, the Smart Water Storage Management Solution, which was installed at a large pharmaceutical company in Johannesburg last year to drive efficiencies, reduce risk and help create water security within its office park. The solution provides the company with a complete view of water levels in eight water tanks and sends alarms notifying the facilities manager when water from the municipality has stopped. It also provides a complete view of water pump statuses and alerts when the pumps stop working.

“The use of technology, with other initiatives such as a greater focus on the treatment and re-use of wastewater, can dramatically improve the threatened water security situation around the world,” Mngomezulu says.