HomeIndustry SectorsAsset MaintenanceDrones add new dimension to water security at South African utility

Drones add new dimension to water security at South African utility

Drones, belying their diminutive size, have proven to be very versatile as a water utility in South Africa can relate.

Recently Rand Water piloted the use of drone technology across a number of its projects, explained contracts manager, Danny Kuya.

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Kuya shared the utlity’s experience through his presentation, aptly titled ‘Piloting of Drone Technology Application in Rand Water’s Area of Service’ during the recent WISA virtual conference.

While drones are known to be safe, comparatively affordable, efficient and accurate, Rand Water needed to see if the technology could live up to the utility’s specific demands. The drones passed with flying colours reported Kuya.

Drones and water security matched perfectly

With the drones, the utility could create georeferenced survey maps for the planning of new pipelines, for instance.

When fitted with a thermal camera, the drone could produce thermal profile maps for tracking water loss. It helped generate videos and photos to assess soil erosion and detect sinkholes or alien invasive trees, among other things. The drone also aided the areal inspection of buildings within flood lines, as well as pollution spills.

Beyond the maps, the technology held numerous other benefits, including that it reduced workflow, could capture immense levels of details, and reduced the manpower needs on certain projects, said Kuya. Rand Water has, as a result, chosen to adopt the technology, which it will use to provide coordinated drone services to its many different operations.

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According to Dr Lester Goldman, the CEO of WISA, it is imperative that South Africa embraces a few fundamental shifts around water. “Our water resources are limited, and we have to start doing more with less.”

He added: “Urbanisation is both an opportunity for economic growth and a threat to liveability, and we find that an uncertain future underpins the planning of our cities and the management of our ecosystems. With increasing numbers of people living in metropolitan areas, water, energy and materials need to be carefully used, reused and renewed.

“In a country such as South Africa, the work done by the water sector has a major influence on the sustainability and success of our communities and our economy.”

Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
As the Editor of ESI Africa, my passion is on sustainability and placing African countries on the international stage. I take a keen interest in the trends shaping the power & water utility market along with the projects and local innovations making headline news. Watch my short weekly video on our YouTube channel ESIAfricaTV and speak with me on what has your attention.