Unbilled water robs city of R500m a year

The Nelson Mandela Bay municipality is losing about R500m a year as a result of unbilled water.
This is despite countless efforts by the city to curb water losses, including installing new meters in parts of the metro.
SA loses a total of R7.2bn annually while, globally, $14bn (R202.6bn) is lost to water that is unaccounted for.
The shocking figures were revealed on Thursday by the municipality’s water distribution director, Joseph Tsatsire, at the 82nd Institute for Municipal Engineering of Southern Africa conference.
Engineers from around the country are attending the three-day conference at the Boardwalk International Convention Centre, which started on Wednesday.
Tsatsire said that while municipalities were required by law to report non-revenue water to the National Treasury and the department of water and sanitation, the figures were mostly incorrect.
He was presenting a paper on the impact of consumer billing in non-revenue water to more than 600 delegates.
The news comes as the city battles a drought, with the dam levels at a combined total capacity of 54.8% on Monday.
Municipal officials have emphasised that the drought has not been broken yet and the metro is not out of the woods.
“These are large sums of money that can be used to improve access to water services to poor, vulnerable communities that don’t have access to water,” Tsatsire said.
“It therefore becomes important that we employ innovative technology to address non-revenue water issues.”
He said monitoring of nonrevenue water losses had improved after methods used in the 1990s proved unreliable.
The metro and the country now used the international water association audit water process to monitor non-revenue water.
“On a daily and yearly basis, as infrastructure ages, we continue to see an increase in nonrevenue water across the country,” Tsatsire said.
“It is important that we put [in] a lot of effort and emphasis to be able to address non-revenue water, and in that way we would be able to address issues of billing and human capital inefficiencies that contribute to non-revenue water.”
His presentation provided a pictorial view to demonstrate that the crisis with non-revenue water was not improving and was, in fact, getting worse as the city’s infrastructure aged.
“In the county’s legislative framework, the department of water and sanitation has put in place legal measures that allow the reporting of non-revenue water,” he said.
“The city’s own measures include installing new meters across the city.
“This will help quantify the problem and devise solutions that are tailor-made to reduce non-revenue water.”
However, he said the rate of non-revenue water was further exacerbated by new housing developments that were often forgotten.
He said the human settlements department needed to provide beneficiary information to the financial departments as well as technical departments to create a database of accounts for residents.
This was not happening in the city, he said.

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