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What are the most common ways water is wasted?

XYLEM, a developer of innovative water solutions through smart technology, helps countries and communities secure and manage their water supplies. Xylem South Africa is engaged in projects across the country and the African continent helping customers transport, treat, test and efficiently use water in public utility, residential, commercial, agricultural, mining and industrial settings.

“Water has become a modern convenience for many, so we sometimes don’t appreciate what it takes to get such a precious resource into pipes and out of taps,” said Chetan Mistry, Strategy and Marketing Manager for Xylem Africa “A little insight can go a long way, not only to build better water-saving habits but also to make the right choices on how to better manage water and water infrastructure.”

To help encourage discussion and enlightenment on water management, here are several ways through which water is often wasted at a country and community level:

Ageing infrastructure

The Department of Water Affairs estimated that more than one-third of available water is lost due to leaking pipes, ageing and broken infrastructure, vandalism and contamination. Well-maintained water infrastructure can realise enormous savings for the resource and fiscus.

Poor water management

Human expansion has dramatically disrupted the availability of water. Significant numbers of water bodies are polluted, from estuaries to coastal zones and even the oceans themselves. Much of this was done to satisfy short-term economic goals, but the long-term consequences may very well undo all those gains.

Insufficient use of water data

Human population sizes tripled during the 20th century, and water for human purposes grew sixfold. That doesn’t include industrial and other applications of water. As urbanisation increases our thirst, it’s vital to understand the picture on the ground to plan ahead. The key to unlocking this is usage data. While infrastructure can be modernised to improve data, most utilities already have SCADA systems that produce large amounts of data. They just often do nothing with it.

Little recycling of water

Countless litres are recycled every year from different sources, ranging from risky greywater to dangerous black water. But despite these efforts, not enough is being done to reclaim more. There are many opportunities to recycle wastewater and chemical water, and the world may have become a bit too complacent with its current recycling activities.

Outdated irrigation and farming techniques

Flood irrigation is a common technique to nourish crops, but it wastes water and can pollute waterways with fertilisers. The wrong crop choices can also have a major impact on water usage. Remedies to improve these vary, and their usefulness depends on the context of the region. Examples include drip irrigation and covering crops to prevent water evaporation.

  • For more information contact: Chetan Mistry +27 11 966 9311 or email


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