Infrastructure Maintenance Management
April 25, 2017
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June 8, 2017
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How to reduce municipal water loss
Utilities need to ensure that quality water is provided to all relevant sectors of society. Water loss is a major threat to water security. Drakenstein Municipality, in South Africa’s water strapped Western Province, has been successful in bringing down water losses from 34% to an average of 11%, at its lowest, with these 7 infrastructure-related interventions.


Water scarcity is a societal issue that, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2015 Global Risk Report, ranked as the number one global risk in terms of expected impact.

In South Africa you don’t have to look much further than the City of Cape Town to see how climate variability and rapid urbanization put pressure on depleted water resources in water scarce environments. With dams at critical levels and Cape Town at an estimated “less than 100 days of water”, water security takes on a more personal meaning for all effected citizens.

Water Conservation can be defined as:

The minimization of loss or waste, care and protection of water resources and the efficient and effective use of water.

Although crisis elevates the need for systematic water conservation practices, proactive measures lead to sustainable outcomes.

In this regard, City of Cape Town’s neighbour, Drakenstein Municipality, stands as an example for others. In 1999, Drakenstein’s water losses stood at 34% and were increasing. The municipality began prioritising projects and introduced a 20-year project plan that has helped to curb the crisis and save over R700 million.

The following 7 interventions have helped Drakenstein drastically reduce its water loss.


From an infrastructural perspective, according to South Africa’s Strategic Framework for Water Services, owners of water-services infrastructure need to:

Maintain a register of water services infrastructure assets

Put a system in place to manage this infrastructure in terms of a maintenance and rehabilitation plan

This plan must be based on the principle of preventative maintenance and must be part of the water services development plan

Infrastructure assets must be rehabilitated and/or replaced before the end of their actual and estimated useful lives

Necessary capital funds must be allocated for this purpose

One of the biggest threats to sustainable and equitable water services, according to the Strategic Framework, are:

Under-expenditure in maintenance

Under-investment in rehabilitation

In order to prioritise the rehabilitation and/or replacement of water infrastructure assets before the end of their actual (AUL) and estimated useful lives (EUL), Drakenstein makes use of the IMQS Water Module. IMQS Water Module is a software package that facilitates the management of all water service infrastructure-related information, which, at Drakenstein, is centralised in a self-developed Asset Management System.

IMQS Water consists of software solutions focused on:

Water Demand Management (WDM)

Water Services Development Planning (WSDP)

Storm Water Management

The fundamental information required to analyse water demand and consumption comes from Municipal Treasury Databases (or similar sources of data) where monthly meter readings are stored along with stand related information. Once the results have been generated by engineering software, the WDM component can display customisable, geographic views on the data and deliver relevant information based on a person’s role in the water-demand cycle.

The IMQS Water Module helps to centralise financial and engineering information in a GIS-centric information management system that provides municipal managers with a spatial representation of their water networks. An integrated, digital view of the asset landscape facilitates decision-making for maintenance management and helps managers to locate their assets in space, and understand their assets over time.

Seven key interventions over the past 17 years have helped Drakenstein curb water loss:

1. Pipe replacements
2. Bulk and domestic water meters replacement
3. Pressure management
4. Leak detection and repair
5. Stepped water tariffs
6. Public awareness campaigns
7. Upgrade information and management tools


By acquiring a one-world-view of its infrastructure asset landscape, Drakenstein has been able to systematically manage its water distribution network over time.

Key infrastructure-related initiatives have brought water losses down to an average of 16% – 11% at its lowest. Between 1999 and 2014, water loss reduction translated into R700 million water savings. In the 2015/2016 financial year, water losses stood at just 13%.

A decreased loss of water has enabled the municipality to delay the construction of reservoirs and large pipelines for several years. Reaction time to attend to burst pipes was also reduced to less than one hour. Finally, there was also a decrease in the occurrence of burst pipes.

For more information on IMQS’s Water Module check our Infographic or download our White Paper.