MPs question EWSA over failure to account for 40% of generated water

Officials from Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) were yesterday tasked to explain why 42 per cent of its generated water is never billed.
EWSA often rations water due to shortage. (Timothy Kisambira)
EWSA often rations water due to shortage. (Timothy Kisambira)

Officials from Energy Water and Sanitation Authority (EWSA) were yesterday tasked to explain why 42 per cent of its generated water is never billed.

Members of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee raised the concerns as part of their scrutiny of the 2011/12 Auditor-General’s report that exposed massive losses and mismanagement in EWSA. 

“Any loss that is below 10 per cent can be justified, but when it goes this high, then this is a big problem that clearly proves why we have water rationing issues,” PAC chairperson Juvenal Nkusi told the officials during their appearance for the scrutiny. 

Part of what is highlighted in the Auditor-General’s finding is that more than 40,000 EWSA clients consume water but are never billed. 

“In this era of geographical information system, how can someone disappear off the grid to the proint of consuming water for a whole year and EWSA cannot trace the person?” Nkusi asked. 

‘Outdated systems’

In his explanation, EWSA Deputy Director-General in charge of water and sanitation, James Sano, attributed much of the loss to an outdated and old water network that keeps breaking down. 

“The 42 per cent is a combination of both commercial and physical loss. Besides, the water network was built 40 years ago with a capacity of serving 200,000 people. Today, we have about 1.5 million consumers which requires us to use more pressure in pumping the water, otherwise we wouldn’t reach out to all the customers,” said Sano. 

Physical loss of water is commonly known as non-revenue water and it’s the amount of water lost as a result of pipe leakage and overflows from the utility storages, leakage on transmission and leakage on service connections up to the customer’s meter.

EWSA’s plans

Commercial losses are also known as “apparent losses, and occur when water that should be included as revenue generating water appears as a loss due to unauthorised actions or calculation error. 

Apparent losses consist of unauthorised consumption, customer metering inaccuracies, and systematic data handling errors in the meter reading and billing processes. 

Sano attributed the commercial losses to unreliable database and said that much of the errors occurred when the utility was still referred to as Electrogaz, where some people were connected to the main pipeline without a meter which resulted into huge losses. 

However, he said Energy Water and Sanitation Authority is putting up new systems to manage water consumption billing to ensure that there is minimal loss.

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