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2008-05-06: The big picture on Operation Gcin'amanzi

The City has suspended the rollout of prepaid water meters in compliance with the High Court ruling whilst the legal teams of both the City and Joburg Water study the judgement with the intention to appeal within the permitted time period.

Whilst the legal process is taking place, the City appeals to residents to refrain from removing meters, as this is likely to cause damage and widespread costly water leaks.

Operation Gcin'amanzi is not only about the installation of prepaid water meters but the upgrading of water infrastructure in Soweto. The project includes a thorough check of the water infrastructure on each site, fixing leaking taps, broken water pipes and faulty geysers.

This has enabled residents to manage their consumption and many households now use less than their free water allocation thus paying nothing for water services.

Before the intervention, monthly water consumption per property in Soweto was 66 kilolitres, owing to the ageing infrastructure. However, monthly water consumption per property in areas where meters have been installed has dropped to an average of 11 kilolitres, representing a percentage reduction in water demand of 85 percent.

Some 55 percent of residents in certain areas where meters have been installed consume less than their free water allocation and thus pay nothing. The remaining 45 percent pay an average of R48, 24 per month per household for water services, compared to R157 average per month that was charged under the old system of deemed consumption.

Since the start of Operation Gcin'amanzi, 80 000 meters have been installed and over 52 000 megalitres (52 000 000 000 litres) of water saved. The introduction of prepaid water meters in 2001 has resulted in a reduction of unaccounted-for-water loss from 40% to 32% in 2007.

This translates into a massive saving for the City that is invested in new infrastructure.

"Joburg, a City where community development, personal growth and social mobility are enhanced so that challenges of poverty, vulnerability, inequality and social exclusion are fundamentally addressed".