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Water firms lose almost half of water they produce valued at Sh9b

Water Services Regulatory Board Impact Report 2020
Water firms lost 115 billion litres of water. This amount of water is enough to serve Nairobi County for five months. Nairobi uses 750 million litres every day.

Water loss, also known as non-revenue water, is the percentage of water losses from illegal connections, meter reading inaccuracies and leakages divided by volume of water produced. Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb) allows a water loss below 20%. In its latest report, Impact Report 2020, the regulator says water firms are losing 43% of their water.

Last year, water loss increased by two points to 43%. The board valued the loss at Sh8.9 billion from a revenue of Sh22.6 billion. The Sh8.9 billion loss is based on Sh22.6 billion income earned by water firms. The lost income is the value of water that firms would have earned if they sold the lost water.

The Sh8.9 billion lost revenue is the lost income by firms for losing 43% of their water than the allowed 20%.

Nyeri was the only public firm to score “good” in water loss for losing 15%. The board allows no more than 20%. Four public firms lost “acceptable” amount of water. Meru and Muthambi 4K lost 21%, while Limuru and Rukanga lost 24%.

Under privately owned firm’s category, only Tatu City, which serves Tatu City complex, scored “good” at 14% water loss. This is the only private firm to score “good.” Remaining private firms Kiamumbi and Runda all scored “acceptable” for losing 21% and 22%.

The Sh8.9 billion lost revenue is the lost income by firms losing 43% of their water than the recommended 20%.

Why report omitted Nairobi

The report omitted water loss numbers for Nairobi Water from national average because the firm failed to justify its data. The board said certain parts of the firm’s numbers were unreliable.

Mrs Sicily Kariuki, minister for water, sanitation and irrigation, said that the high levels of water losses hurt water firms. “All players must deliberately play their roles in a concerted way if any meaningful gains in NRW [non-revenue water] reduction are to be realised,” she said.

READ – Water companies lose Sh7 billion annually to water leakages.

READ – Water firms ranking: Nyeri top for nine years with widest margin.

What could lost water do?

Water firms lost 115 billion litres of water by losing 43% of water instead of the allowed 20%. This is enough to serve Nairobi County for five months. Nairobi uses 750 million litres every day. “It is therefore apparent the impact of this loss is substantial and thus concerted efforts are required from all actors to deal with this challenge,” the report says.

In addition, it says that commercial and governance reasons cause high water losses. This means that minimal resources can cut the losses to allowed, it says. It asks water firms, employees, counties and financiers to help cut water loss.

What must county governments do?

Constitution of Kenya 2020 created two levels of government – national and county. National government controls ownership, use and regulation of water resources, protects consumers and owns national public works. County governments give water and sanitation service, and run catchment and county public works.

Regulations to help cut water losses have been in force for five years. This, however, has failed to cut the high water losses.

“Counties are strongly advised and encouraged to exercise due oversight on their utilities including strengthening enforcement mechanisms in the county water legal framework,” the board says.

Water firms must show what they are doing to cut water losses when applying for licence and tariff change.

About Kaburu Mugambi

Kaburu Mugambi is a veteran of business reporting having worked with two national newspapers in Kenya. He is a graduate of economics from Kenyatta University. He started his journalism career in 2000 with The People Daily as a business reporter before becoming a business sub-editor. He joined Daily Nation in 2004 as a business writer. He holds a post-graduate diploma in mass communication from University of Nairobi's School of Journalism and an MBA in marketing from the same university. In 2016, he founded Water Tower, a media firm focused on water, energy and climate. Its content cuts across water, energy and climate with emphasis on adaptation and sustainability.

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