oa South African Journal of Information Management - Residential water information management : peer reviewed article
Since ancient times water has been compared to life. Research has since shown that 60% to 70% of an adult's body weight is water (Burke 1995), suggesting that there is an important link between water and human life. The effective application of fresh water as a scarce resource is essential for the human race to survive in increasing numbers on planet Earth. This is especially true for geographical regions where the water demand is increasing, due to the growing population or an improved living standard, and is reaching the limit of the available water resources. Southern Africa is such a region. Despite the significance of water as resource and the problems facing South Africa with regard to service delivery, only one article listing 'water' in the title (Rademeyer and Snyman 2004) has appeared in the South African Journal of Information Management since its inception in June 1999. It is hoped that this article will spark interest and lead to further publications pertaining to water in this journal.In this article, the focus is on potable water, intended for drinking and other residential uses, as opposed to raw water that is required for irrigation and agricultural purposes. Potable water is supplied to consumers by a water service provider, generally the local authority (LA) or municipality, via a piped water distribution system (WDS). In some countries the service provider is known as a 'water utility', but the term is uncommon in the South African civil engineering fraternity. It this article the use of LA is preferred.The LA has the responsibility of effectively managing water demand by consumers in its area of jurisdiction. Each LA is required by law to regularly compile a water services development plan (WSDP). The WSDP could be viewed as a reporting standard that addresses various aspects of water use and information pertaining to it. One of the sections of the WSDP addresses the issue of water demand management (WDM), which is termed demand-side management (DSM) in the USA. WDM is defined by Hunt, McDevitt and Hunt (1998) as follows : 'To better manage how and when water is used.'To better manage how and when water is used, it is essential to gain detailed knowledge of the water used on a particular property. This type of detailed focus is known as end-use modelling or micro-modelling of water use. In this article, two types of data pertaining to water use and reports on recent advances with regard to Web-based data input to end-use models are defined. It has been noted in previous studies that information, which in turn is derived from data, is needed in order for a water authority to function properly (Johnson 2002). The focus in this article is on the flow of information from the end-user (water consumer) to the LA (water manager or analyst), because this aspect is particularly challenging due to the data hungry nature of end-use models.
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