The Southern African Stainless Steel Development Association (Sassda) is, along with the Drakenstein municipality in Paarl, in the Western Cape, and South African stainless steel product manufacturers, evaluating the use of stainless steel pipes to reduce water leaks.
Sassda states that as much as 60% of South Africa’s treated water is lost to leaking pipe systems.
Further, about 40% of Johannesburg’s treated water supply is nonrevenue water, equating to a loss of R1.1-billion a year. Of this, 73.3% is lost due to pipe leakage, the association says, adding that case studies have shown that 95% of treated water leaks occur in the small diameter service pipes connecting the distribution pipes to the users’ water meters.
Sassda Western Cape manager Michel Basson says this is because water pipes are currently made from, or replaced with, high-density polyethylene, with a lifespan of 20 years, as opposed to stainless steel pipes with a 60-year lifespan.
“In light of this, we currently have a test installation under way in a residential unit in Paarl where we are evaluating the installation of corrugated stainless steel tubes connected to the bulk supply line, which have been installed and covered in such a way that they can be easily removed for inspection,” he explains.
This pilot project is the initial stage of a planned joint undertaking with Drakenstein municipality, which has been involved in large upgrades to infrastructure of water supply, sewage and roads with the current expansion of luxury estate homes along the Berg river.
The initial stage has seen both dummy pipes and 316 stainless steel pipes, manufactured by INOX Systems, installed at Honey Dew Country Estate.
“The potential for stainless steel water supply installations in the municipal area is potentially huge since it covers a large geographic area of populated land. Current infrastructure upgrades include the Berg River boulevard extension which will act as an additional link for residential development from Helderberg and Stellenbosch to the N1 Paarl, Mbekweni and Wellington,” states Sassda.
“Water loss on the scale we are experiencing, especially with the current water crises being experienced, has major economic and environmental implications for South Africa and other countries around the world.
“This year at the International Stainless Steel Forum’s annual meetings, the forum launched an initiative to promote the use of stainless steel water pipes. It presented an analysis of three case studies where stainless steel has been used for water pipes, drawing conclusive evidence that stainless steel is the best material of choice when considering environmental and economic considerations,” says Sassda executive director John Tarboton.