Non-Revenue Water remains COWD’s main problem

Mar 27, 2018

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Non-Revenue Water, not its bulk water supply, remains to be the main problem plaguing the Cagayan de Oro City Water District.

This was disclosed by Eduardo Montalvan, COWD chairman of the board, during the water district’s press conference held March 22, 2018 at a local hotel.

COWD Press Conference 22 March 2018

COWD Press Conference 22 March 2018

 

“LWUA allows a maximum of 30% NRW per water district. When I was appointed a member of the COWD Board, our NRW as 59%, one of the highest in the country,” Montalvan admitted. “That means of our total daily production of 186,290 cu.m. per day daily production, 59% of that or 109,911 cu.m. is wasted.”

Non revenue water (NRW) is water that has been produced and is “unaccounted for” before it reaches the customer.

The International Water Association (IWA) has developed a detailed methodology to assess the various components of NRW as unbilled authorized consumption; apparent losses (water theft and metering inaccuracies); and real losses (from transmission mains, storage facilities, distribution mains or service connections) IWA [www.fondazioneamga.it/public/lambertfe19maggio06.pdf ], August 2003, accessed on November 29, 2009]

Illegal water connections like these not only cause losses to your water district but also contaminates the water from your faucets.

Illegal water connections like these not only cause losses to your water district but also contaminates the water from your faucets.

 

High levels of NRW are detrimental to the financial viability of water utilities, as well to the quality of water itself. NRW is typically measured as the volume of water “lost” as a share of net water produced.

However, the COWD is now implementing an NRW Reduction program with official development assistance from the Japanese and American governments.

“Our NRW project was started with the assistance of JICA, further supported by USAID, we secured a loan from DBP, and now the NRW is down to 50.36%,”Montalvan said. “LWUA told us we have to reduce this further and we committed to them we will reduce it.”

The COWD attributes the high NRW rate to its old pipes especially in the poblacion that even predates the present water district which was created in 1973.

“So you can imagine how old they now are. We have to identify all the leaking pipes to replace them and ultimately, we have to replace all of the old pipes. We loaned P425 million from DBP just for that.  The loan took a long time to be approved due to the complicated process, so far only 50% has been released and the balance has not yet been released,” Montalvan said.

Water leaks in old pipelines are causing COWD to lose over half of its daily water production

Water leaks in old pipelines are causing COWD to lose over half of its daily water production

 

But Montalvan admits even the proceeds of their DBP loan is insufficient to replace all the COWD’s old pipes.

“This is one of our most important projects we have to really focus on because even if we reduce NRW by 30%, that means 30% more income for us and we don’t even have to implement any further rate increases,” Montalvan stressed. “Hopefully when all the pipes are eventually replaced we can even hope to attain a 20% NRW.”

To properly address its persistently high NRW, COWD has created an NRW Department headed by Edgardo Tuvilla which is charged with focusing on reducing its NRW and resolving NRW-related issues.

Acting General Manager Bienvenido V. Batar, Jr. stressed that addressing the NRW issue has become even more urgent given the current precarious supply situation of the COWD.

“The 186,290 cu.m. is COWD’s daily rated production capacity but does not take include wells that are under repair and maintenance. We want to clarify that our present supply is just barely sufficient to meet the city’s daily demand. So if even one of our wells is not producing, we instantly have a water shortage in a relatively large service area.”

Water from fire hydrants distributed to waterless areas form part of the COWD's non-revenue water

Water from fire hydrants distributed to waterless areas form part of the COWD’s non-revenue water

 

“Thus, the real demand could be much greater since many areas suffer from low water pressure and cannot avail of the amount they really need on a daily basis,” he added.

In fact, Mayor Oscar S. Moreno said during the Oro Chamber’s latest general membership meeting last week, the COWD should first address its NRW problem before even entertaining any proposals about privatizing the water district.

“It is not yet the appropriate time to privatize COWD,”Moreno noted. “We can’t shortcut the process. We must first decrease non-revenue water before entertaining such plans.”

 

 

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