The water supply project in South Africa’s Emfuleni Municipality resulted in lower costs for water--including lower energy costs associated with water supply--and also improvements in the municipality’s financial status through a new leakage management system for bulk water supply. Innovative pressure management technology was applied to the water supply system of two low-income residential areas, yielding significant savings in water and energy costs for pumping and treating water for distribution. The payback period was only 3 months and financial savings, from both reduced energy use and water losses, was estimated at US$3.8 million per year for a lifetime of 20 years. Under the performance contracting arrangement employed to finance and implement the project, the municipality retains 80% of the water and energy cost savings during the first five years and 100% of the savings thereafter.
The project has been hailed as a great success for South Africa. It clearly demonstrates that the use of suitable technology under a shared savings arrangement can succeed in low-income communities. A private firm providing financing for technical innovation--at no cost to the municipality--received remuneration from sharing savings in water purchases. The contractor provided a basket of services, including financing of upfront investment capital, design, implementation, commissioning, operations and maintenance (O&M) over the contract period, as well as training municipal staff in operations prior to handover of the installation. The project resulted in substantial financial savings that led to a "win-win" situation, both for the municipality and contractor, through a successful public private partnership (PPP).
ESMAP. 2011. Good Practices in City Energy Efficiency: Emfuleni Municipality, South Africa - Water Leak Management Project. ESMAP Energy Efficient Cities Initiative. Washington, DC: World Bank.