The Central Water Authority (CWA) of Mauritius is undertaking a mammoth Rs 1 billion project to reduce water leakage on the island. Under the project, the CWA, with the assistance of a team from Singapore, is using modern equipment to detect underground leaks and repair them as well as track down illegal connections in the water supply network.

The non-revenue water (NRW) project is funded by a loan from the government to CWA along with part assistance from the European Investment Bank. The programme, inclusive of project management services and the related works, is presently estimated at a cost of Rs 1 billion.

The objectives of the project are to reduce NRW and improve water network efficiency through active leakage control and effective asset renewal; to effect knowledge transfer to CWA to enable sustainable water network management and asset data management; and to improve water network management / monitoring of the system.

To begin with, supply pipelines will be changed in the Central Plateau – Upper and Lower Mare-aux-Vacoas. This work will begin shortly as the demand for water is constantly increasing and has gone up by 2.5% annually during the past eight years.

The number of subscribers of the CWA, which stood at 283,877 in 2005, rose to 325,000 in 2011 and has reached almost 330,000 till date.

According to a census conducted by the CWA, many homes have water consumption at Rs 55 per month although they have a large garden or several persons living in the same house. The CWA installs pumps so that the pressure in the pipes is not high enough to cause damage.

Over 100,000 faulty meters have been recorded in both the domestic and commercial circuit across the country but, at first, 50,000 meters will be replaced.

In Mauritius, the percentage of water injected into the distribution network has seen an annual increase of 3% over the past 20 years.

In 1990, the volume of water injected per day was 310,000 m3 and stands at 600,000 m3 as on date. Water consumption per capita has increased from 152 liters per day in 1990 to 167 liters today.

The Energy Minister for Mauritius, Dr Rashid Beebeejaun, pointed out that addressing the NRW issue has become urgent in the wake of seasonal shortages of water due to low water level in the main reservoirs on the island.

The problem is further exacerbated as a result of the high level of NRW in the system leading to reduced supply to customers. The water supply situation, particularly in Central Plateau – Upper and Lower Mare-aux-Vacoas, is deteriorating and water is being supplied to consumers for lower hours.

NRW reduction in the Central Plateau is seen as a quick win that will help address the immediate need within the overall water sector reform framework. This can then be followed by a system-wide reduction for the rest of the country, said the minister, while highlighting the need for an information system which alerts the CWA areas where the leakage is occurring.

Image (Nasseem Ackbarally/IPS): The CWA, with the assistance of a team from Singapore, is using modern equipment to detect underground leaks and repair them as well as track down illegal connections in the water supply network.