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Lower Losses Save Water Corp $6.5m

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

The Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) has saved $6.5 million through the first two years of its non-revenue water (NRW) reduction project, its general manager telling Tribune Business that its daily water losses had been cut in half.

The savings come from the 10-year, $83 million contract that the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) has signed with Miya to reduce leakage from its distribution system.

Glen Laville, the Corpporation’s general manager, said five years of that contract involves water loss reduction, with the remaining five focused on maintaining those levels.

“The target is to go from where we were, which was seven million gallons a day [being lost], eventually down to two million gallons a day,” said Mr Laville, who gave a presentation at the Rotary Club of East Nassau.

“As far as the non-revenue water project that we started in 2012, the first year was to do a number of studies and develop a strategy. Then they started the implementation phase in 2013.

“When we started we were losing about 6.9 million gallons a day. By the end of 2014, two years into the project, we have cut that basically in half. We are losing only about 3.5 million gallons per day.

“So far we have saved about one billion gallons of water, and we expect that to continue to improve. Over whole project we will save 10 billion gallons. Monetarily, for every one million gallons we save, it’s about 2.5 million gallons a year in purchase costs so you can see where the trend is going. Basically, with the amount of water that we have saved so far, that would equate to about $6.5 million with the one billion gallons.”

Mr Laville said the Corporation’s operating cost recovery has continued to drop over time. “It went from highs of about 84 per cent,” he added.

“Right now, for every dollar that we spend we only recover about $0.65 cents in revenue. In terms of subsidies from the Government, over the past 10 years, we have averaged about $25 million per year, and that’s just in operating subsidy. That doesn’t speak to what the Government invests in infrastructure throughout the islands.”

Mr Laville outlined four main challenges facing the Corporation. “We have had increased cost of service because we have been moving towards desalination,” he explained.

“We have moved away from barging. Desalination is actually more efficient than barging right now. Our tariffs are lower than the cost of service. The last tariff increase was in 1999. We have decreasing capital expenditure.

“Most of the subsidies we get now are operating subsidies, so we can’t invest in our infrastructure at the rate that we want to and, of course, we have the very high level of water losses. What we are trying to achieve is financial and operational sustainability.”

Mr Laville continued: “We want to improve our staffing efficiency, and the way to do that is restructure the organisation, where we focus on our core functions, and all the non-core functions we try to outsource to the privates sector.”

Mr Laville said the Corporation was looking to increase its tariffs in the future, but focusing on improving its service quality first. “We also want to do a customer win back programme. Obviously, as we improve service we want people who used to be on our system but came off because of reliability to come back on,” he added.

Mr Laville said there was a need for major investment in water main replacement in New Providence, which the corporation has been doing over time.

“Every year now we’re focusing a lot more on changing those mains that affect water quality,” he said. In the past we had a dual focus; it was the main that had high levels of leakage, and those that may have had quality issues.

“Because of the progress we have made with water losses we now focus purely on area quality main replacement. There is a lot of work to be done. If I was to hazard an estimate, I would say probably another $50 million in investment is required in Nassau.”

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