Water-leak detection and control systems provider AquaTrip South Africa has reasserted its focus on conserving water with the installation of its electronic valve, which monitors water flow at schools across Johannesburg.
The Brisbane-based company has a regional office in Stellenbosch, in the Western Cape, and was contracted in March as part of a water conservation project aimed at reducing water loss to save costs on water and sanitation at schools. The project was launched by the South African Local Governmental Association in partnership with Johannesburg Water.
“AquaTrip had to showcase innovative water and sanitation technologies and solutions that would contribute to improving the conservation and efficient use of water, and the cost effectiveness of water and waste management in the municipal environment,” AquaTrip director JacquesPretorius tells EngineeringNews.
Twenty schools, among which leakage was common, were identified as high water users and AquaTrip’s AT201 leak-detection system was installed on their main water lines.
“The AquaTrip range is designed to fit any type of water system, be it industrial or for personal use, and can be installed to any pipeline ranging from 15 mm to 80 mm in diameter. It is also fully automated and programmable so that the schools can adjust the valves according to their needs,” Pretorius adds.
He also notes that the AquaTrip system will ensure that water is available during school hours and high-usage times, while preventing leaks and use during after-school hours by shutting off supply and reopening auto- matically the next morning.
“The ablution facilities, which leak regularly, have been fitted with 24/7 protection, ensuring savings even while the facilities are unoccupied. If any taps, leaks, cisterns or urinals are left running or have sprung a leak, the AquaTrip system will automatically switch off the water. As learners re-enter the facility, the motion sensors will pick up the movement and automatically open the stop valve so that they can use the facility,” he states.
According to Pretorius, the automated system can provide savings of between 30% to 80% on water bills.
“As school bathrooms are noted as high-usage facilities – meaning there will always be a dripping tap, leaky urinal and running toilets – the system will provide comprehensive savings from the first month of operation.”
Meanwhile, AquaTrip also supplies other schools across the country with its leakage detection system. Pretorius notes that the Douglas Mbopa Secondary School, near Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape, was identified as a pilot to demonstrate the succes of the system to the local Nelson Mandela Bay Water and Sanitation Department the success of the system, especially as the school was R1.5-million in arrears in water tariffs over 19 months.
“Since the AquaTrip system was installed last year, it has saved the school about R30 000 a month in water and sewerage bills. Water consumption prior to fitment was 2 244 kℓ/m . . . we have now reduced that to . . . 423 kℓ/m – a water saving of 85%. The . . . installation . . . paid for itself within the first month,” Pretorius explains.
While schools have benefited substantially from the digital system, Pretorius states the company is considering expansion into Africa and manufacturing the leakage systems locally, as the company currently imports the systems from Australia.
“As we have been involved in the South African market for the last six years, we hope to expand . . . into countries such as Kenya, Botswana, Mozambique, Angola and Nigeria, while . . . starting production in South Africa, with Port Elizabeth being highlighted as a possible destination for production facilities.”
The added production will be welcomed because the company has started supplying systems to industrial brand management giant Barloworld, JSE-listed packaged-goods company Tiger Brands, financial services provider Investec, integrated chemicals and energy company Sasol, construction company Motheo Construction and health club chain Virgin Active, along with JSE-listed real estate investment trust Growthpoint Properties, adds Pretorius.
“The future for AquaTrip lies in the commercial properties of companies such as Barloworld and Tiger brands. We still focus on high-use facilities, such as schools, but currently, the commercial sectors provide the biggest growth opportunity for AquaTrip,” he says.
Pretorius notes that the system, which runs on a 9 V lithium battery for about two years, has also gained popularity in the agriculture and mining sectors. For example, diversified mining major Anglo American has installed the AquaTrip systems at its mines across the country.
“We have also entered into a few joint ventures and have been in talks with governments to provide schools with shared savings contracts, where we would install the device free and set up a contract to show to clients who are unsure that the AquaTrip leakage systems can save costs,” concludes Pretorius.