A Comparative Study of Factors Influencing Non-Revenue Water in Mpumalanga, (A Case Study of Perceptions from Emalahleni, Emakhazeni and Steve Tshwete local Municipalities)

Document Type : Case study


1 MSc. Student, Dept. of Environmental Sciences, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, University of South Africa, Florida Science Campus, 28 Pioneer Ave, Florida Park, Roodepoort, 1709, Johannesburg, South Africa

2 Senior Lecturer, Dept. of Environmental Sciences, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, University of South Africa, Florida Science Campus, 28 Pioneer Ave, Florida Park, Roodepoort, 1709, Johannesburg, South Africa


Non-revenue water poses a significant challenge to sustainable water management in municipalities worldwide. This study investigates the factors contributing to NRW and assesses the effectiveness of existing management strategies in three municipalities in Mpumalanga, South Africa. Through a survey-based approach, perceptions of municipality workers were collected to gain insights into the drivers of NRW and the efficiency of currently employed NRW management strategies. The findings highlight real losses; including broken pipes, pipe bursts, water leakages, and storage overflows are perceived as the most significant contributing factors of NRW across all three municipalities. These results align with previous studies, emphasizing the importance of addressing real losses to mitigate NRW. Additionally, the study reveals management factors and political interference as perceived contributors to increased NRW in the municipalities. In terms of management strategies, modern flow metering is employed in two of the municipalities to control active leakage, while the third municipality relies on active leakage control equipment. Pressure management practices, automatic pressure-reducing valves, and regular asset performance assessments were identified as common practices for managing and mitigating NRW, whereas the use of smart metering technologies, modern leakage detection techniques, zoning (district metered areas), and improved estimation techniques were proposed as mitigation strategies with the potential to further reduce NRW in the three municipalities. The study fills a research gap by providing insights into the specific factors contributing to NRW in the selected municipalities and evaluating the effectiveness of existing strategies. The results of the study can inform decision-makers and water utility managers in developing targeted interventions to reduce NRW and improve water management practices. It is further recommended that future studies explore the implementation and long-term effectiveness of some of the proposed mitigation strategies, to effectively address NRW in order to ensure sustainable water supply, efficient resource utilization, and improved service delivery.


Main Subjects

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