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  • 15 Mar 2024 8:36 AM | Anonymous

    As we commemorate World Plumbing Day, a momentous occasion dedicated to recognizing the indispensable role plumbing plays in our communities, IOPSA (Institute of Plumbing South Africa) stands tall, celebrating the remarkable contributions made by our dedicated teams across diverse regions. From Gauteng to KZN, Freestate to the Western Cape, our commitment to enhancing lives through plumbing excellence shines brightly.

    In Gauteng, our engagement was multifaceted, highlighting the breadth of our initiatives. Initially, we actively participated in an event hosted by the Plumbing Industry Registration Board (PIRB). Here, our team seized the opportunity to engage with fellow plumbers, fostering meaningful connections, and spreading awareness about the myriad benefits of joining IOPSA. This event not only served as a platform for networking but also sparked growth within the plumbing community.

    Moreover, our Gauteng committee showcased unwavering dedication to community upliftment by visiting Park Ridge Primary in Vanderbijlpark. Here, they undertook the monumental task of fully outfitting two ablution blocks with new sanitary ware, significantly enhancing the learning environment for students. This project, made possible through the generous sponsorship from Plumblink, will undoubtedly foster improved hygiene practices among the students, nurturing healthier communities for generations to come.

    In KZN, our team orchestrated an inspiring event at Paw Prints, where they installed two 5000L tanks sponsored by Africa Tanks. These tanks, along with auxiliary piping supplied by our dedicated sponsors, ensured reliable water access for the facility. What's more, the event brought together local plumbers and residents who united to bathe the puppies, donate essential supplies, and install the water tanks, exemplifying the spirit of community and compassion. Notably, Lea Smith from the PIRB put down his pen for the day and traded it in for a pickaxe, actively engaging with the team in their efforts.

    Meanwhile, in Freestate, IOPSA took on the critical task of improving water and sanitation facilities at the SPCA in Bloemfontein. By guaranteeing clean water and proper sanitation for both staff and animals, we contribute significantly to the welfare of our beloved furry friends and those devoted to their care.

    In the Western Cape, our efforts extended to House of Hope, where we embarked on extensive plumbing upgrades and repairs in two venues. These enhancements ensure that children residing in these homes have access to clean water and sanitary conditions, promoting their health and well-being.

    We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our esteemed sponsors: Africa Tanks, BuildIt, Unitwist, Advanced Valves, Simply Bathrooms, Ganga Plumbers, Plumbing Academy KZN, Afri Plumb, Modl Plumbers, PIRB, Berlesell, Euro-Aquatech, Lixil, Ariston, Zero2One Plumbing, House of Plumbing, Advanced Valves, and Plumblink Vredenburg. None of these remarkable achievements would have been possible without their unwavering support.

    As we reflect on World Plumbing Day, let us not only celebrate the significance of plumbing in our daily lives but also recognize the profound impact it can have on communities when wielded with care and compassion. IOPSA remains steadfast in its mission to champion excellence in plumbing and continues to serve as a beacon of hope and transformation in South Africa. Together, we build healthier, more vibrant communities, one pipe at a time.

  • 06 Dec 2023 9:55 AM | Anonymous

    The latest Blue Drop, Green Drop and No Drop reports from the Department of Water and Sanitation indicate a marked deterioration across the board.

    Government seems reluctant to call this a crisis, IOPSA believes it is in fact a crisis of monumental proportions.

    According to Brendan Reynolds, Executive Director at IOPSA, “This is absolutely a crisis of monumental proportions, it is bigger and far more complex than the loadshedding crisis. 46% of our drinking water does not comply to standards, 67% of wastewater treatment works are failing and 47% of our potable water is lost to non-revenue water, mostly leaks in the municipal system. How can you not call that a crisis?

    IOPSA has noted the vast sums of money which government at all levels wastes on high profile conferences, workshops and fancy, headline grabbing projects. It is IOPSA’s opinion that investing this money in repairing, maintaining, and upgrading our water and sanitation systems would go a long way in creating real sustainable employment opportunities, provide a much-needed boost to the economy and present crucial opportunities for skills development and practical work experience. The savings to the fiscus would be massive, not to mention the increase in revenue. All this whilst protecting and conserving vital water resources and preventing further damage to the environment. Everyone at every level of society will benefit if government just simply does their job!” ,he concludes.

     The Blue Drop Report

    This is the report on South Africa’s potable water supplies. For the year to June 2022, 144 Water System Authorities (WSAs) were included in the survey, including seven water boards. Across the board there was decline since the last report in 2014.

    Almost half the water supplies in South Africa fall below the minimum compliance levels, and a third of the systems are in critical condition. 46% of water supply systems do not comply to water quality standards – a huge decline from 5% in 2014.

    Systems in a critical state rose from 174 systems in 2014 to 277 in 2022. Those in an excellent state decline from 44 to 26 systems.

     “The water in these systems could pose serious health risks. IOPSA recommends that water in these areas should be boiled before use, for those with the financial means there are excellent water treatment options available to protect your families. As much as people have been investing in alternative energy over the past few years, the public needs to start thinking about how to secure safe water sources for their families. ” says Steve van Zyl, Technical Manager at IOPSA.

     Only 26 water supply systems received Blue Drop Certification.

    The Green Drop Report

    This report looks at the state of the wastewater treatment works. 67% of WWTWs are in a critical state. Only 15% of WWTWs comply to microbiological limits. “…85% of WWTWs do not meet microbiological limits and this indicates the effluent from these WWTWs present a serious health risk to downstream users due to the presence of pathogenic bacteria in the effluent,” says the report. In other words, the WWTW’s are polluting our freshwater resources with raw sewage.

    “Plumbers have a critical role to play in this regard, the vast amount of stormwater which is being diverted into sewage systems is seriously damaging WWTW and municipal infrastructure. This practice needs to stop, qualified plumbers generally know that this is forbidden, but there are thousands of unqualified people pretending to be plumbers and they have no idea of the impact their actions are having.” Says Van Zyl.  

    The No Drop Report

    This report looks at water losses and non-revenue water (NRW). 47% of South Africa’s treated water is simply lost.

    “We, the public, are paying to treat, store and distribute water that is simply lost. We constantly hear municipalities, the Department of Water and Sanitation and various Water Boards blaming the public for using too much water. This is completely disingenuous. It is the municipalities lack of maintenance and failure to replace ageing infrastructure that is causing the problem. Of course, we all need to do our part in saving wherever we can, but the problem lies squarely with government.” says Reynolds.

    Whilst IOPSA applauds the government for providing such a transparent report, the reality is that South Africa is facing a challenge far greater than anything it has ever faced before. Life is not possible without water, the health impacts if this decline continues will be nothing short of a disaster.

    Qualified Plumbers play a crucial role in ensuring that water and sanitation is done safely and that it improves the health and safety of the public. At present the industry is being decimated simply because government is failing dismally in enforcing its own laws. There is a massive influx of sub-standard, non-compliant and outright illegal product being sold blatantly in industry. The unchecked growth in unqualified people conducting work and the virtually non-existent enforcement of by-laws at the vast majority of municipalities is all having a massive impact on our country. It is high time that government recognises how critical highly skilled and qualified plumbers are to the basic functioning of any society and takes concrete steps to protect and develop this critical industry.

  • 22 Nov 2023 11:12 AM | Anonymous

    IOPSA has noted the media statement from the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) dated 20 November 2023. In the statement which is below, SAAFF has detailed the challenges facing the ports and logistics industries in South Africa. The ports are owned and managed by Transnet. According to SAAFF the current situation is far worse than that experienced during the strike in October 2022. Due to poor maintenance, equipment breakdowns, material shortages and poor weather conditions the ports are currently unable to operate at their required capacity. This has led to significant delays and currently there are 96 vessels currently at anchor awaiting their turn to enter the ports. This situation has led to daily losses of more than R26 million per day. You may wonder what this has to do with plumbers?

    In October last year we saw huge plumbing material shortages and delays in the market. If SAAFF is correct that this situation is worse than last year we should expect the same. At this time of year many plumbers are trying to finish off jobs and delays can be disastrous, especially on large contracts. We urge all plumbers to order their material as soon as possible to try to avoid delays. We also recommend that plumbers increase their stockholding of important daily items to avoid running out. Furthermore, SAAFF has indicated that the extreme costs of these delays could increase the cost of goods by between 4% to 24.5%. These increases will almost certainly be passed on to the industry in one way or another, so it is quite possible that prices will increase more than expected in the near future. IOPSA recommends that plumbers contact their suppliers as soon as possible to check on the status of critical materials.

    If the past few years have taught us anything it is that South Africa’s extreme reliance on imported goods leaves us open and vulnerable to forces completely out of our control. IOPSA has long advocated for the use of locally produced products. The current situation once again illustrates how important local manufacturing is for the country. Not only does it create vital jobs, it stimulates and grows our economy (which is great for everyone) and it allows us, as a country, to be masters of our own destiny. Make no mistake, impots will always play an important role, but without local manufacturing capacity we are at the mercy of the vagaries of the world. So please choose local, the power is in your hands.

    We would like to take this opportunity to once again thank all members for their continued support during the year. We hope that you and your families have a peaceful break in December. For those who are travelling please return safely. We look forward to an action packed 2024.

    Click here to download the media statement

  • 02 Oct 2023 10:40 AM | Anonymous

    Mervyn Jordan is a name synonymous with dedication, commitment, and passion within the plumbing industry. With many years of invaluable service under his belt, Mervyn's tireless efforts have played an instrumental role in shaping the Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) into the influential and cohesive organization it is today.

    Throughout his journey, Mervyn's commitment to the plumbing industry has been nothing short of remarkable. His dedication was not limited to regular working hours; countless late nights were spent tirelessly working to further the cause of IOPSA. He was a true visionary, someone who understood the potential of unity in a fragmented landscape.

    One of Mervyn's most significant accomplishments was his role in uniting the various independent IOPSA regions into a single, cohesive national body. This consolidation not only streamlined the organization's operations but also amplified its voice and influence within the industry.

    Mervyn's contributions to IOPSA extended beyond his volunteer work. He dedicated a substantial part of his career as an employee of the organization, ensuring that his impact was sustained and meaningful. His involvement in numerous SABS (South African Bureau of Standards) technical committees showcased his commitment to maintaining industry standards and safety.

    Education has always been at the core of Mervyn's efforts. He provided training to hundreds of plumbers, passing on his knowledge and expertise to the next generation. This commitment to education not only improved the skill set of plumbers but also elevated the industry's overall standards.

    One cannot speak of Mervyn without acknowledging his genuine love for the plumbing industry. His enthusiasm and passion were infectious, inspiring many within the industry to follow in his footsteps. Mervyn's presence was not just impactful; it was also characterized by a great sense of humor that endeared him to all who had the privilege of knowing him.

    In the plumbing industry, Mervyn was more than just a professional; he was a well-known and beloved figure. His reputation as a true gentleman and his ability to bring laughter into even the most challenging situations made him a cherished member of the community.

    As we reflect on Mervyn Jordan's remarkable journey, it is abundantly clear that the plumbing industry and IOPSA are immeasurably richer for his unwavering dedication and contributions. It is with the utmost honor and gratitude that we present Mervyn Jordan with a Lifetime Achievement award. This award is a testament to his enduring impact on our industry and organization, a legacy that will continue to inspire and guide us in the years to come.

    In celebrating Mervyn's achievements, we also celebrate the values of dedication, unity, education, and passion that he exemplified throughout his career. His story serves as a reminder of the profound difference one person can make when they commit themselves wholeheartedly to a cause they love.

  • 02 Oct 2023 8:55 AM | Anonymous

    At a glittering gala event held in Mahikeng, North West, IOPSA and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) signed a pledge to construct efficient Local Governments through significant public-private partnerships. IOPSA was represented at this event by Faith Ratshilengo from Plumblink Mahikeng.

    These partnerships aim to strengthen, empower, and build the capacity of the sector to effectively address the many challenges faced by local governments. In this regard IOPSA will continue with its efforts to improve the technical knowledge and skills of local Building Control Officers (BCO’s), Water Inspectors (WI) and other relevant municipal officials. Nearly 500 municipal officials have already been trained and the effects can already be seen. It is hoped that by improving the knowledge and skills of BCO’s they will be able to implement their by-laws more effectively especially in regard to unqualified people conducting plumbing works and non-compliant materials.

    Further to these activities, SALGA has also identified the urgent need for professionalisation of the plumbers employed in local governments. Not only will this give long overdue recognition to the trade, which is so often neglected, but it will go a long way in ensuring that plumbers in the various municipalities keep up to date with the latest industry trends and ensure compliance with the various laws, regulations and standards.

    The official handover of the pledge took place in Kempton Park on 28 September 2023 when Mrs Ledile Sebati, Director of Operations for SALGA handed over the signed pledge to Brendan Reynolds, Executive Director IOPSA. IOPSA would like to applaud SALGA for this bold step, and we look forward to a successful partnership.

  • 29 Sep 2023 10:13 AM | Anonymous

    The night of September 21st, 2023, was a night covered in elegance and celebration as the Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) hosted its prestigious Annual Plumbing Industry Awards at the magnificent Indaba Hotel. This evening was dedicated to honoring excellence, innovation, and outstanding achievements within the plumbing industry, paying tribute to those who have propelled the industry to new heights.

    Kethiwe and Xolani: The Masters of Ceremonies

    The evening began with a spirited welcome from our two charismatic MC’s, Kethiwe and Xolani. These young compliance auditors and qualified plumbers for IOPSA set the stage for an evening filled with excitement, camaraderie, and the recognition of exceptional contributions to the plumbing industry.

    Ubuntu: The Unity of the Industry

    Sello Mokawane, Vice President of IOPSA, delivered an inspiring address on the true essence of unity within the industry, embodying the spirit of Ubuntu. He reminded us that when we stand together as one, in all our diversity, the plumbing industry becomes an unbreakable force for good.

    Resilience in the Face of Adversity

    Brendan Reynolds took the stage to highlight the indomitable spirit of South Africans and the plumbing industry. In recent years, our nation has faced numerous challenges, from floods and droughts to the COVID-19 pandemic and riots. Despite these trials, both our nation and industry have emerged stronger and more resilient. Brendan's words of encouragement paved the way for the exciting awards ceremony that followed.

    Recognition Awards: Honoring Lifelong Dedication

    The evening's first set of awards, the Recognition Awards, were presented to individuals and organizations that have demonstrated unwavering dedication to the plumbing industry. Berlesell and Kreishandwerkerschaft were recognized for their steadfast commitment to the plumbing profession. Additionally, Michelle van Rensburg, Nick Joubert, and Kurt Vermaak were honored for their decades of service.

    Kwa-Zulu Natal: Region of the Year

    A moment of pride and celebration occurred as Kwa-Zulu Natal was named the Region of the Year for the second consecutive year. This achievement underscores the region's dedication, hard work and continuous commitment to their members and the industry.

    Auditor of Excellence: Ushen Parsuram

    The Auditor of the Year award was bestowed upon Ushen Parsuram, whose diligence and expertise have contributed significantly to maintaining the industry's integrity and compliance standards.

    Feast for the Senses

    During a delightful interlude, attendees were treated to a sumptuous buffet dinner, offering a delectable array of culinary delights. This break provided a perfect opportunity for networking and connecting with fellow industry professionals.

    Champions of Education and Skill Development

    The awards continued with categories that recognize the champions of education and skill development within the plumbing industry:

    • Training Provider of the Year: Flavius Mareka TVET College, a two-time winner for their consistent dedication to nurturing the next generation of plumbers.
    • Apprentice of the Year: Mbali Buthelezi from Umfolozi TVET College and Chapman Plumbing , exemplifying dedication and excellence among aspiring plumbers.

    Industry Excellence Across Sectors

    The awards ceremony continued to spotlight excellence across various sectors within the plumbing industry:

    • Retailer of the Year: Plumblink
    • Importer of the Year: Harscan Distributors.
    • Manufacturer of the Year: Advanced Valves
    • Plumbing Company of the Year
      • Industry Lady of the Year: Lesley Jearey, whose remarkable contributions to the industry were celebrated, even though she couldn't join us at the event. 

    Gratitude and Acknowledgment

    The IOPSA Annual Plumbing Industry Awards 2023 would not have been possible without the steadfast support of the plumbing industry and our generous sponsors. We extend heartfelt gratitude to all those who contributed to making this event a resounding success.

    Platinum Sponsors:

    • Advanced Valves
    • JoJo

    Gold Sponsors:

    • Ariston
    • Stiebel-Eltron
    • Evo Valves

    Silver Sponsors:

    • Harscan Distributors
    • Plumblink
    • Geberit
    • Electrolux
    • Builders Warehouse
    • Umfolozi TVET
    • Allan Gray
    • Maluti TVET College
    • Afriplumb Projects

    The IOPSA Annual Plumbing Industry Awards 2023 was an evening to cherish, where the plumbing community came together to celebrate its finest and set new standards for excellence. As we reflect on this remarkable event, we eagerly anticipate another year of growth, innovation, and unity within the plumbing industry. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees who continue to inspire us with their unwavering dedication and passion

  • 07 Jun 2023 1:00 PM | Anonymous

    “… the majority of “plumbers” are not qualified, the majority of materials being used are non-compliant, the majority of plumbing installations are non-compliant, the municipalities are not able to control the situation on their own and the informal, non-compliant, industry is slowly killing the formal trained and qualified plumbers. To say that the situation is dire would be a gross understatement. It is small wonder that South Africa finds itself in the midst of a growing water, sanitation and health crisis.”

    With the recent outbreak of cholera in several regions of South Africa the public has, possibly for the 1st time, become aware that water borne diseases are not just a phenomenon in far flung rural areas. It is extremely sad that it has taken the deaths of so many people to raise the subject with the public and to galvanise authorities into action. The media and most authorities have raised the important issues of the treatment of both wastewater and potable water as being key in protecting public health. These are certainly important and cannot be ignored, but there is another key factor which has largely been ignored in most of the discussions and debates: the state of the plumbing industry.

    Whilst building dams, bulk water supply lines, water treatment plants and wastewater treatment works are critical infrastructure which any country needs to function. People often forget that plumbing forms a crucial part of these systems. Potable water needs to get from these big infrastructure projects into homes and businesses, wastewater needs to be disposed of safely and directed to treatment plants and rainwater needs to be disposed of correctly. If this is not done properly the whole system becomes effectively useless. A potable water treatment plant becomes useless if the water is contaminated or lost through leaks before it even gets to homes, a wastewater treatment plant is useless if the sewerage never even gets to it, if large volumes of rainwater enter sewer systems it damages treatment plants and causes huge spillages of raw sewage, not to mention flooding. Getting these systems installed correctly is the role of the plumber.

    When most people think of plumbers, they think of someone who repairs a tap or geyser or unblocks a drain but there is much more going on behind the scenes. For these systems to work properly they must be installed, connected, and repaired in particular ways, using the correct material to function properly. If not, they end up causing damages and putting the health of the public at risk. So, what is the state of this important industry? To understand what is happening one needs to look at the research. Sadly, there isn’t a huge amount available but below are the highlights from some of the available research.

    • According to the Water Research Commission in 2006 as much as 60% of all plumbing materials being sold in South Africa do not comply to legal requirements. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the situation has worsened since then.
    • TIPS (Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies) conducted research in 2018 where they found that of the 126 000 people who identify their job title as “plumber” only an estimated 15 000 were actually qualified.
    • n 2019 PEM Consulting found that the plumbing industry is characterised by far more informal activity than formal, with the number of formal enterprises declining every year and the number of informal operators increasing. Most informal enterprises are flying beneath the radar. This gives them a competitive advantage as their costs and commitments to their staff and clients are low.
    • In successive surveys by the Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) from 2018 to 2022 the single biggest factor affecting plumbers’ ability to succeed was the activities of informal, unqualified “plumbers”.
    • Other research by IOPSA found that most municipalities did not have adequate water services bylaws and that these municipalities where not able to adequately control plumbing work being conducted in their jurisdiction. In related research, IOPSA found that as many as 70% of homes in urban areas have non-compliant plumbing installations.

    So, to summarise, the majority of “plumbers” are not qualified, the majority of materials being used are non-compliant, the majority of plumbing installations are non-compliant, the municipalities are not able to control the situation on their own and the informal, non-compliant, industry is slowly killing the formal trained and qualified plumbers. To say that the situation is dire would be a gross understatement. It is small wonder that South Africa finds itself in the midst of a growing water, sanitation and health crisis.

    The obvious next question would be “what is being done about it?” Unfortunately, the answer is not straight forward. On the legislative side there are various regulations and standards which are being worked on. Sadly, most of these have been stuck in bureaucratic limbo for years, it seems that there is little political will to get them finalised and implemented. The power to enforce the current and future legislation lies firmly in the hands of local government. As most South Africans know, the majority of municipalities are facing very serious challenges. With the exception of a handful of metros, it is highly doubtful that municipalities will have the funds, technical capacity or political will to reverse the current state of affairs.

    In the face of this dire situation, IOPSA, the Plumbing Industry Registration Board (PIRB), SA Women in Plumbing (SAWIP), Plumbers Business Forum (PBF) and the Building Construction and Allied Workers Union (BCAWU) have come together to present a plan which would assist greatly. Collectively, these organisations represent the vast majority of formal businesses and workers in the plumbing industry. The idea would require qualified plumbers to register with PIRB, the registered professional body for plumbers, and require the issuing of a certificate of compliance for all plumbing work. Regular proactive auditing is conducted on the plumbers’ work, ensuring compliance, safety, ethics and recourse for the public. Far from impinging on local authorities’ powers, this system will go a long way in assisting them to enforce regulations and protect vital infrastructure and public health. The system has been in operation on a voluntary basis for more than a decade and is working extremely well. Thousands of qualified plumbers are already registered and are subjecting themselves to oversight in the best interests of the industry and public health and safety. What is needed now is the support of government and the broader public.

    The situation is indeed dire and if urgent action is not taken very soon, we could see the collapse of a critical trade in South Africa. We do not have the luxury of time and endless debate, for the sake of our nation we need to take action now.

  • 25 May 2023 11:52 AM | Anonymous

    South African body corporates and property owners are not doing proper due diligence when appointing service providers and are, therefore, increasingly exposing themselves to potential criminal and civil action. In many instances of late, insurance companies have rejected claims and even endorsed policies due to non-compliant installations.

    Service providers are predominantly being appointed based on the price of their services, with scant regard given to their qualifications, skills and experience to perform the work that they are appointed to do. This potentially places the health and safety of occupants of buildings and entire communities at risk. These risks are especially high when dealing with trades such as electrical wiring and plumbing where sub-standard workmanship can lead to injury and even death.

    Many body corporates and property owners do not know that they are responsible for injuries and fatalities caused by defective workmanship that has been performed by appointed service providers on their properties.

    “For example, if an incorrectly installed plumbing system on your premises causes harm to others, criminal and civil action can be taken against you. This is because you created the hazard by appointing the unqualified service provider who performed the sub-standard work in the first place. There seems to be a lot of confusion around the difference between public and professional liability among body corporates. Public liability refers to claims by members of public for injury, illness, or damage. This is opposed to claims by property owners or tenants for professional mistakes made or negligence by their service providers. There is a significant difference between professional and public indemnity. Professional indemnity does not mitigate your criminal and civil liability in the event of an incident on your premises that causes injury, death or damage to property,” Chris Coetzee, Owner of OHSS Consulting, says.

    Coetzee is an occupational health and safety (OH&S) expert. He is a Lead Auditor who holds qualifications in ISO 9000, ISO 14 000 and ISO 45 001 and is currently completing his International Diploma in International Occupational Health & Safety Management.

    The OHSS Consulting team has been working closely with the Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA) since 2017 to significantly raise OH&S protocol across its large membership.

    Moreover, the company is working with IOPSA to educate body corporates and property owners as to the importance of always using qualified plumbers and the significant risk associated with non-compliant plumbing workmanship.

    This is especially important in these challenging economic conditions in which body corporates are tempted to cut costs.

    Another concern is that there is very seldom a clear budget set aside for the appointment of service providers. This is especially in cases where there is uncertainty among body corporates, homeowners, lessees or sub-lessees as to who is responsible for installing, repairing, replacing or maintaining plumbing. Therefore, service providers are appointed haphazardly and mainly based on who is able to provide their services at the most affordable rate when emergency plumbing work is required. In many instances, service providers who are not qualified to install, repair, replace or maintain plumbing installations are appointed. With very little in way of qualification, skills and experience, they can offer their services at very low rates. The fees of licensed plumbers include their qualifications, as well as the training that they invest in their staff to upgrade, hone or refine their skills and the equipment and materials that they use to ensure compliant plumbing workmanship. Not to mention the use of compliant products. This is in addition to the investment that they make into their own OH&S protocols, which is very rarely taken into consideration by body corporates. It is treated as something separate – something that is simply done for just the sake of it as opposed to an important part of business.

    All of these efforts are important to ensure the sustainability of the South African plumbing industry. The use of unlicensed service providers, thus, also threatens the wellbeing of the local plumbing industry.

    Coetzee believes that body corporates and property owners would be more mindful when appointing plumbers if they were aware of the risks associated with substandard plumbing workmanship and the extent of their liability should something go wrong.

    Herman Strauss, Director of SA Watermark, concurs. SA Watermark is a register of plumbing components that comply with the relevant South African National Standard (SANS) standards. It provides IOPSA’s members with a quick means of ensuring that the products or materials that they use are compliant and, therefore, fit-for-purpose.

    According to Strauss, the majority of property owners do not understand plumbing. Many are under the impression that it is a simple trade with very little that can go wrong, other than water losses due to a leak and consequent increase in water bills, although an important consideration in a water-stressed country such as South Africa.

    “The question that is frequently asked by owners of property is: if incorrect plumbing is so dangerous, why have we not had more incidents that have resulted in a loss of life or serious injury? I have a fairly straightforward answer: we have good plumbing standards in place and

    an industry that is among the best in the world. This has helped to safeguard occupants of buildings and the general public. Therefore, there have only been isolated incidents involving plumbing installations thus far. However, with the increase in the number of unqualified plumbers operating in the country, we are starting to see more incidences. In fact, recently we have become aware of several instances where insurance companies have rejected claims and even endorsed policies. This is a clear indication that insurers have recognised the significant risks of non-compliant plumbing installations and are taking very strong steps to mitigate against it,” Strauss says.

    The risks associated with non-compliant plumbing can be severe. For example, a hot water system that has been installed incorrectly, can explode. Incorrect water temperatures can promote the growth of bacteria in plumbing installations that cause illness. It can also scald, with vulnerable individuals most at risk. Another hazard of substandard workmanship that is often overlooked by body corporates is the potential of sewer gases to leak from a faulty plumbing system into a building, potentially poisoning occupants. Meanwhile, fire hydrants and hoses that have been incorrectly located and with insufficient water pressure cannot be used effectively to quell a fire on a property. Poor plumbing workmanship is seldom practical or efficient.

    Like Coetzee, he reminds that the onus lies with property owners to ensure that their plumbing is fit-for-purpose. If they knowingly use the services of un-qualified plumbers, they could very well be held liable for loss of life or injury, or damage to property that occurs on their premises due to non-compliant plumbing workmanship, irrespective of whether they are aware of relevant laws or not. In order to mitigate such risks, property owners must ensure that they only use the services of suitably qualified professionals.

    However, it is the responsibility of all plumbers to ensure that they perform their duties according to clients’ expectations. This is also in line with the requirements of the Consumer Protection Act, which qualified plumbers take very seriously, in addition to the standards, regulations and protocols that regulate this trade.

    A qualified plumber has both the hand skills and knowledge of the applicable SANS standards, protocols and plumbing legislation to install, maintain, replace or repair plumbing systems correctly as required by their clients.

    Dealing with a plumber that is registered with the professional body for plumbers, the Plumbing Industry Registration Board (PIRB) is a quick and efficient way for body corporates to ensure that they have appointed a competent service provider. All IOPSA members are registered with PIRB and are, therefore, able to deliver services according to the many standards, regulations and protocols that govern this industry to safeguard building occupants, communities and public and private property.

  • 04 May 2023 11:08 AM | Anonymous

    In keeping with IOPSA’s objective of engaging with local authorities, they recently met with Ekurhuleni.

    The Building Control Officers (BCO) of Ekurhuleni had a training session with IOPSA in the Council Chambers at Edenvale.

    Approx. 51 BCOs attended and Gerrie Botha presented the standards and by-laws for discussion. He reinforced that the BCO was vested with great power through these to enforce both compliance and competent people doing the work. In this case it was the qualified plumber. In the case of unqualified people doing plumbing work, the BCO has the power to have him/her removed from site, or preferably not even get as far as the site. The latter would be in discussion with the property owner at the planning stage.

    Gerrie emphasised that every BCO must have a set of the compulsory standards. Failure to have this set leaves the BCO open to criticism and besides, it is part of the tools of the BCO profession. He warned of the dangers of using the internet as a point of reference as these are opinions and not the actual standards available only from SABS.

    To answer the question of how one knows whether the plumber is qualified or not, Gerrie showed the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) certificate, which is the only certified proof of qualification for a plumber. He did confirm that there are still those holding the original qualification (Red Seal) which was acceptable. More to the point was the ‘plumber’ that had been doing plumbing for several years, without a qualification. While this was wrong and against the law, the aim should be to encourage such people to upgrade to a fully qualified plumber through several options available to them, including funding in some cases.

    It was noted that IOPSA could offer to municipalities, at no charge for the first year, verification that the plumber is indeed qualified. A fast and efficient service for BCOs.

    IOPSA also confirmed that as an organisation it does not issue a qualification certificate such as is required in the Skills Act. It will provide a certificate for courses/webinars they run which will clearly identify the name of the course and dates.

    Executive director, Brendan Reynolds, reinforced that IOPSA was available to support and engage with the BCOs should they require assistance.

    Reference was made to the PIRB, a voluntary registration and inspection/audit body, whereby a plumber can register and issue a Certificate of Compliance (COC) for a variety of plumbing jobs, which is left in the hands of the property owner. More details on PIRB can be found on Regarding the audit part of the PIRB mandate, this has been placed in the hands of IOPSA. Such an auditor will clearly identify themselves with an identity card as 5% of submitted COCs are audited.

    Plumbing Africa had a brief chat with Thapelo Mogatusi, Interim Chief Building Control Officer for Ekurhuleni, who is a qualified architect.

    He has 47 Building Control Officers for the area that covers some 1 975 square kilometres.

    Mogatusi is very keen to encourage skills development and compliance. Such a focus he added was to the benefit of all parties including the Metro itself which would benefit financially as well as providing excellent service delivery – which benefits the public at large.

    Stakeholder engagement was critical and he would work to build this up in the Metro.

    In other words, “The BCO offers value in all aspects.”

    Sadly, time was against us and Plumbing Africa and Mogatusi would meet for a more detailed interview.

    Time was up for Plumbing Africa as well so we could not enjoy training manager Steve Van Zyl’s talk, but by the look of all the plumbing fittings around him the BCOs were about to enjoy examples of compliance and non-compliance.

    The origional article can be found here
  • 03 May 2023 3:52 PM | Anonymous

    It is just a matter of time before South Africa experiences a very serious outbreak of cholera and other waterborne pathogens, such as salmonella, typhoid and hepatitis.

    This is considering the critical state of the country’s waterborne sanitation system, which is being exacerbated by widespread illegal plumbing practices.

    “When assessing the risk of waterborne disease in the country, the focus is usually on the lack of sanitation and water infrastructure in the rural areas, townships and informal settlements. While this may have been the cause of previous and the more recent outbreaks of cholera, illegal plumbing practices in the urban areas have also become a significant contributor to the onset of an imminent crisis. Over the years, there has been a marked increase in the number of illegal interconnections of sewer and rainwater systems across the country. This practice is a major contributor to the rapid deterioration of our waterborne sanitation system and urban water cycle, placing whole communities at risk of exposure to waterborne pathogens,” Steve van Zyl, National Technical Manager of the Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA), says.

    IOPSA members are qualified plumbers. They will, therefore, never connect rainwater gutters and gullies to stormwater drainage systems and will advise property owners against this practice when asked to assist them to do so or when they see these types of installations on premises. Many property owners of all sizes do not know that it is illegal to discharge stormwater into the sewer system, although this is not an excuse for breaking the law. In other instances, property owners deliberately choose to ignore warnings against the release of stormwater into the sewer system. They are aided by unqualified plumbers who do not know better or unscrupulous operators.

    Illegal house downpipe collection to municipal sewers is among the lead causes of stormwater inflows and groundwater infiltration into sewers in South Africa. It overwhelms entire waterborne sanitation systems, spanning collection and conveyance of sewage through to the actual wastewater treatment component. These were never designed to handle stormwater – and certainly not at the quantities that are currently being dispensed in sewers from the many roofs of houses in South African suburbs. They are already buckling under the strain of a significant growth in demand for sanitation services as cities continue to grow at an unprecedented rate. Certainly, lack of maintenance; inadequate planning and underinvestment in services delivery infrastructure; and poorly constructed systems are compounding the problem.

    During heavy rainfall, there are overflows and sewage spills from sewer pipes that are filled beyond capacity and from overwhelmed sewage pumpstations. WWTPs are also flooded, and the effectiveness of the biological process used to treat wastewater vastly reduced. This, ultimately, leads to higher pollution loads being discharged into adjacent river ecosystems.

    Eradicating illegal house downpipe connections to municipal sewers will help to alleviate pressure on the country’s waterborne sewage system.

    Poor enforcement of plumbing standards and regulations by authorities has provided an ideal environment in which inexperienced plumbers can operate without fear of repercussion, or for property owners to flout the rule of law.

    Notably, regulating the industry is also one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways of making an impact. This is compared to upgrading the capacity of existing systems and constructing new infrastructure which involves long lead times and is costly, bearing in mind stretched municipal resources.

    The recent Green Drop report, the latest since 2013, reveals the true extent of the sanitation challenge that the country is facing. It has gone from bad to worse, with the need to intervene having never been more urgent.

    The report shows that sewage treatment capacity has declined even further since 2013. This has resulted in the release of larger volumes of wastewater of a significantly poorer quality into the environment over the past 10 years.

    Of South Africa’s more than 800 municipal WWTPs, almost half obtained a score of 30% or less for their performance. This means that they are in a critical state, while the average Green Drop score across all provinces was 50%. Therefore, half of the country’s raw sewage and industrial waste is not being treated to the required standards. To obtain a Green Drop Certification, WWTPs need to obtain a score of at least 90%.

    Meanwhile, aged, as well as poorly maintained and constructed sewer systems are barely coping with the increased demand for sanitation services. This is evidenced by vastly diminished sewer collection and conveyance levels, with large volumes of sewage being discharged into the environment before it even reaches the WWTPs.

    “Certainly, the lack appropriate sanitation and drinking water in the rural areas, informal settlements and townships are pressing issues that must receive urgent attention. This is considering the large role that these have already played in cholera outbreaks in the country, including the recent cases from Gauteng. However, in South Africa, waterborne disease is no longer only a ‘infectious disease of poverty’ as it is described in developed countries of the world. It potentially impacts South Africans of all income levels. This real risk of a widespread outbreak of waterborne diseases is also being heightened by the decisions that are being made by suburban dwellers who are far removed from the townships, informal settlements and rural areas,” Van Zyl concludes.


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* Please note that all articles are dated and content was valid at the time of publication. 



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