Concerns as 44% of water in supply systems is lost

The report says that water losses are mainly due to leakages, illegal connections, road construction, metering inaccuracies, meter bursts, meter blocks, natural disasters and stealing water by moving meters.
Residents of Masaka Sector in Kicukiro District queue for water at a public tap. / Photo: File.

Despite many households still facing water shortage across the country, over 44 per cent of water supplied within different networks is lost according to recent statistics by Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA) on water and sanitation.

The report says that water losses are mainly due to leakages, illegal connections, road construction, metering inaccuracies, meter bursts, meter blocks, natural disasters and stealing water by moving meters.

 

From December 2019 to March 2020, the quantity of water supplied into the network was12.9 million cubic meters whereas 7.1 million cubic meters were only billed leaving 5.8 million cubic meters lost and unbilled.

 

Rwanda targets 100% universal access to clean water by 2024 from 87 per cent but such lost water is still a challenge that causes shortage of water in some areas.

 

This lost water is dubbed “Non-revenue water” meaning water that has been produced and is “lost” before it reaches the customer.

Aimé Muzola, WASAC Chief Executive says that the challenges are still affecting water supply but pledged that mega projects are in the pipeline to reduce the losses although it can’t decrease to zero percentage.

“We had a strategic plan from 2018 to 2019 to reduce average loss of water from 38 per cent to 25 per cent but because it requires huge financial investments it seems the target was not met but with projects in pipeline we need to reach that target,” he said.

He said that they are working on a ‘Smart Network Management Project’ that will help to detect water leakages for quick interventions to fix them.

“We are buying equipment to detect water leakages in networks for quick interventions. There will be sensors in networks to detect leakages. There will be pressure reducing valves to regulate pressure because leakages are usually caused by high pressure of water in pipes,” he said.

He noted that replacing old pipes with big pipes will also avoid bursting as it reduces pressure.

“We have to replace pipes that are 40 years old.” he said.

The official added that they will also replace meters with smart meters that help to monitor any disruptions on screens.

However, he noted that there are challenges that are difficult to handle.

These include leakages caused by construction of roads that always destroy water pipes and other people who steal water from networks in sophisticated ways.

He insisted that to ensure sustainable water supply environment protection measures are needed so that disasters do not continue to damage pipes.

Will 100 % water access be achieved?

Muzola said that mega projects will help to address water shortage and attain 100 % water access by 2024 adding that proper settlement will also help to supply water to all.

“There is a big project to build water reservoirs and water supply systems. We will build 568 kilometres in Kigali city in three parts. One for replacing old pipes, the second is for upgrading water distribution networks with big pipes that can supply a big number of population and the third is for extension of supply,” he said.

He said that there are reservoirs to be constructed that will be 2.5 times of the existing ones.

To supply enough water within and in suburbs of Kigali city, he said, 40,000 cubic metres Kanzenze water treatment plant, Karenge water treatment plant to be upgraded from 15,000 cubic metres to 25,000 cubic metres and a new plant being mulled in Masaka with 40,000 cubic metres will ensure sustainable water supply.

Water supply systems that are non-functional need to be rehabilitated.

In June 2020, while responding to water infrastructure-related issues that were identified by lawmakers, the Minister for Infrastructure, Claver Gatete said that there are some non-functional rural water supply systems as well as public taps.

He indicated that of 1017 rural water supply systems in the country, 423 are fully functional representing about 41.6 per cent; 474 accounting for 46 per cent of them are partially functional, while 121 of them representing 11.9 per cent are non-functional.

He added that 9,959 public water taps are non-functional out of 16,435.

Last year, the Ministry of Infrastructure announced an investment of $440 million over the next three years to set up water treatment plants and supply systems in urban and rural areas in line with achieving universal water access in Rwanda.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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