Happiness Zengeni in UTRECHT, Netherlands
ZIMBABWE has a high non-revenue water (NRW) level, a situation which has severely constrained the ability of water authorities to provide adequate drinking water.
NRW is water that has been produced and is lost before it reaches the customer.
The level for Zimbabwe currently stands at above 40 percent against acceptable world standards of below 25 percent.
The Netherlands has a much lower NRW of 5 percent. Zimbabwe National Water Authority chief executive Dr Jefter Sakupwanya said the high level of NRW was mainly due to ageing infrastructure, old distribution network, illegal connections and inadequate metering.
“We are at present exploring opportunities to reduce the high NRW which is due to illegal connections, old distribution and infrastructure network, inadequate metering and slow response to repair burst pipes and leakages.”
Vitens Evides International official Maarten Schweuring told the Zimbabwe delegation which is currently on a Netherlands Embassy-funded study tour of Drinking Water in Utrecht yesterday, that the country should work towards reducing the NRW levels.
Vitens is the largest of the 10 water companies in the European country.
Giving statistics about the water situation in the Netherlands, Mr Schweuring said the country had NRW of 5 percent, house connections of 99,9 percent against lows of 10 percent in developing countries.
Interruption of supply for the country was at 18 minutes per year. Zimbabwe’s interruption of supply goes up to several days per year.
Mr Schweuring said the best practices for reducing NRW was to implement the caretaker approach by creating district metered areas with a designated caretaker.
“This cuts the problem (of NRW) into smaller pieces through isolation, in the process making it transparent and optimises capacity of field personnel by upgrading meter readers and making them consumption analysts.”
He however, said for this to work there was need for the water utilities to exercise commitment, have a sense of urgency, be transparent and to have interdepartmental teamwork structures already existing in the structures.
Vitens chief executive Marco Schouten said the company through its Water Operator Partnership is able to partner with like-minded companies around the world for various issues around water, which also include NRW reduction projects.
Under WOP, Vitens will be the lead agency but the bulk of the projects (62 percent) is funded by donors. The WOP portfolio currently stands at 115 million euro.
Dr Sakupwanya said the soon-to-be-unbundled water authority was looking at improving operational efficiencies and to reduce significantly the number of disruptions per year “to levels that do not inconvenience consumers.
“As such we are using this tour as a learning mission where we will identify areas of co-operation and investment within the Dutch water sector.
“The ultimate aim is to improve service delivery and ensure access to clean drinking water.”
The World Bank estimates that the total cost of NRW to utilities worldwide at $14 billion per year.
Reducing by half the current levels of losses in developing countries, where relative losses are highest, could generate an estimated $2,9 billion in cash and serve an additional 90 million people.