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Is iconic Cape Town – home to four million residents and world-acclaimed tourist attraction – set to become infamous for being the first major city worldwide to run out of water? This question spurred a local company into action – to find a solution that will empower consumers.

The current water challenges that South Africa is experiencing are a culmination of fundamental issues such as aging municipal water pipelines and metering infrastructure: “That alone is contributing to approximately 42% of non-revenue water losses in the country,” states Dhasi Naidoo, chief strategy officer at Ontec Systems, who adds that this has encouraged utilities to seek solutions to help them identify the problems in order to better spend their budgets.

This article first appeared in ESI Africa Edition 3, 2018. You can read the full digital magazine here or subscribe here to receive a print copy.

With government tariff increases, regulated restrictions on water usage, and self-imposed water-wise measures implemented, the region’s inhabitants have re-evaluated their relationship with water and are seeking to understand how to go about using, saving and repurposing this scarce resource. However, dam levels in the Western Cape are at a critically low point (some facing levels of less than 20% in February) and, according to Weather SA, with the uncertainty of seasonal rainfall expected remain an alarming concern. It is the consumer who is feeling the brunt of the problem, states Naidoo, explaining that: “It is the end-user where the most impact can be made, and quickly.”

On the supply-side, the Cape Town-based firm engages with utilities to identify where network problems exist. This includes examining water balancing, which addresses the water supply from reservoirs, feed-ins, and distribution systems and, in turn, how water is reticulated to the consumer, where losses occur and balancing infrastructure spend.

Water management controlled by end-users

The severe implications of drought conditions led Ontec to design a solution to encourage the uptake of sustainable water usage in homes and offices. The result has produced a smart water management solution system to answer the growing need for the accurate monitoring of water usage.

“GaugeIT allows for the evolution of a smarter, more engaged consumer by empowering them with near real-time water consumption information directly on their cell phone.

This enables consumers to make a more informed and conscious decision to change behaviour; and this will not only save them money but also make an impactful difference to the water crises in our country,” says Naidoo. The technology will support the uptake of sustainable homes, which is set to become essential in a future where resources will be under severe pressure and costly to acquire.

Key features on the GaugeIT solution include near real-time hourly monitoring on the app, early leak detection alarm and high usage threshold warnings to avoid any unforeseen monthly water bills. In addition to the core benefits, consumers that have been restricted to a daily water quota by the utility now have the ability to closely monitor their usage allowance to prevent running out of water prematurely.

Following a few days of good rainfall in June 2018, the City of Cape Town announced that residents should continue to adhere to the restrictions that have been set. “The Department of Water and Sanitation requires Cape Town to get down to a collective usage target of 450 million litres per day. It remains important to get as close to it as possible to ensure that water resources are stretched in the face of further rainfall uncertainty,” said the city’s executive deputy mayor, Alderman Ian Neilson.

However, the biggest problem is that end-users aren’t fully aware of how much water they are using or how this impacts them because “there is no quick reactive measure.

With this device, Ontec helps consumers to become smarter along with the journey that utilities are taking,” states Naidoo.

The solution incorporates a billing grade water meter with a connectivity module contained in a box that is installed after the municipal meter and delivers a near real-time and visual data reading for a more accurate measurement.

Ontec Systems makes use of its reputable global partner network as well as local experienced technicians to develop and assist with testing the product to ensure optimal performance to the end-user.

GaugeIT will give consumers the ability to have a sustainable home, which is really about consumers having equipment or smarter technology to be able to see consumption in near real-time. “This helps consumers to be proactive and preventative of huge water bills, as well as monitoring water use to be under the allowed ration – as overuse can result in being disconnected from the network.”

Along this water-wise journey, Ontec is helping utilities and consumers to play an active role in changing their water use habits. Launched in May, this smart technology is the latest offering, available on Takealot.com, which gives the consumer a visual understanding of their water consumption and ultimately provides a measure of control not previously found in the end-users’ domain.

“GaugeIT’s biggest value proposition is to create awareness and to empower the consumer to make better decisions with resources,” states Naidoo, concluding: “We want to see people build and work towards the smart evolution by being in control and part of a smart community, with smart living.” ESI

This article first appeared in ESI Africa Edition 3, 2018. You can read the full digital magazine here or subscribe here to receive a print copy.

GaugeIT is available on Takealot.com


About the company

Ontec Systems has collaborated with its customers to develop systems and metering technologies to meet the needs of large utilities, municipal environments, private sector companies, and residential households. The technology company is dedicated to delivering innovative solutions in the electricity, gas and water sectors.

At Ontec we are committed to creating a smarter future for all. Our innovative solutions enable our customers to manage their use of electricity, gas and water for a smarter future. Ontec is a Level 3 Black empowerment company.

www.ontec.co.za