Authority’s water losses revealed

The Water Authority Cayman has lost
just less than $1 million per year between 2005 and 2008 in water it produced,
but which never made it to the homes and business of consumers.

Those figures were revealed in
annual reports dating back to 2003 that were presented to the Legislative
Assembly in February.

According to audits completed by
Cayman Islands Auditor General Dan Duguay, the Water Authority lost as much as
$1.3 million in water production costs during the 2006/07 budget year and lost
as little as $750,000 in production costs during the 2007/08 year.

The true revenue lost by the
authority might be greater since it sells the water to consumers at higher
prices. For instance, of the $910,000 in produced water losses during
2004/2005, the auditor general estimated some $2.5 million could have been made
in consumer sales.

However, Water Authority Cayman
Director Gelia Frederick-van Genderen said the authority believes the correct
calculation is the lower figure – what it costs the authority to produce the
water, not what the potential sale price might be.

Between 2005 and 2008, a total of
$3.8 million in produced water was lost in the Water Authority’s system –
representing approximately 16 per cent of the total water the authority
produces per year.

Water Authority officials said –
when compared to other countries – that loss figure is fairly low.

Mrs. Frederick-van Genderen said
the losses are often referred to in the water industry as ‘non-revenue water’
or NRW, referring to water that has been produced by the supplier and lost
before it reaches the consumer.

“These losses are both real (such
as leaks) and apparent, due to theft or metering inaccuracies,” Mrs.
Frederick-van Genderen said.

Annual losses or NRW figures
generally vary between 10-15 per cent of total water produced in Europe and
North America, and can go as high as 40 per cent in regions of Latin America,
the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, Mrs. Frederick-van
Genderen said.

“The NRW level of the Water
Authority’s water distribution network compares favourably to that in other
jurisdictions at 16 per cent,” she said.

However, the director said the
authority is always working to control non-revenue water losses and has
implemented a number of measures, such as a leak detection programme and
replacing older, inaccurate water meters, to combat it.

Mr. Duguay said the ultimate
question for the authority to determine was how much water losses it feels are
acceptable.

“We’ve been encouraging them to try
and keep that as low as possible,” he said.

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