South Africa is losing the equivalent of 4.3 million swimming pools of water a year because of leaky pipes and theft, The Sunday Times reported.
According to the newspaper, a Water Research Commission (WRC) study had indicated that South Africa lost 1.58 billion kilolitres of water a year, or just under 132m k/l a month.
This was enough water to fill a third of the Gariep Dam, the largest in South Africa.
The water loss reportedly cost South Africa around R7.2bn a year.
WRC water use and waste management executive manager Jay Bhagwan told the newspaper the problem was caused by ageing infrastructure and the prioritisation of new infrastructure over maintenance.
The council estimated that 15% of water loss was caused by theft.
The Sunday Times quoted water affairs department spokesperson Linda Page as saying the government was concerned about water loss.
“South Africa is a water scarce country. Water losses have been identified as a risk to sustainable water supply into the future, especially at local government level,” she said.
She told the newspaper the maintenance of infrastructure had also been substandard.