How Stainless Steel Can Help Solve Our Water Crisis

A recent report by Times Live highlighted a shocking statistic – up to 40% of Johannesburg’s water goes unaccounted for every year, costing the city over R1 billion. Of this, over three quarters is lost to leaking or burst pipes. In the eThekwini Municipality in KZN, almost half a billion Rand is lost every year for the same reason.

These staggering losses can be attributed in part to the use of inappropriate or inferior metal in pipes and pipe fittings, which have short lifespans and fail to withstand the high corrosion levels characteristic of South Africa soil.

At the other end of the scale, the Western Cape’s Drakenstein Municipality has enjoyed significant reductions in its water losses since it began replacing the inferior pipes and fittings with stainless steel way back in 2002. They use 316 stainless steel for their underground network, and 304 for all their above ground applications, and now boast one of the lowest levels of water leakage in the country.

Southern Africa Stainless Steel Development Association (SASSDA) Executive Director John Tarboton says, “There is high value potential of using stainless steel material for service piping and fittings, potentially saving millions of Rands currently being lost in leakage and filtration costs.”

Unfortunately, many municipalities are put off by the initial costs of installing stainless steel pipes, which are considerably higher than other available materials. This is a sadly short-sighted attitude as stainless steel usually proves to be highly cost effective in the long run – especially in humid coastal areas or areas with highly aggressive soil conditions.

As John Tarboton comments, “Unfortunately, current short sighted, cost-cutting practices do not serve our future. The implementation costs of stainless steel should be viewed as a long-term cost-saving opportunity. If finance companies could see fit to finance the implementation of stainless steel systems based on the savings gained from wasted and unauthorised water usage costs, this would be a compelling initiative for South Africa’s water distribution services.”

The use of stainless steel is an investment in our country’s future, and we at Steelmor are proud to be a leading manufacturer and supplier of stainless steel products to a variety of industries. Contact us today to talk about how we can help you with your next project.