Potable water losses fall by 12pc in 2017

MUSCAT, JULY 31 –
The Public Authority for Electricity and Water (Diam) has reported significant gains in the reduction of the copious amounts of potable water that is unaccounted for at various points along the utility’s ever expanding transmission, distribution and supply system.
Water losses — also known as Unaccounted for Water (UFW) or Non-Revenue Water (NRW) — were reduced by around 12 per cent in 2017 over corresponding figures for 2016, PAEW Chairman Mohammed bin Abdullah al Mahrouqi said.
Controlling unaccounted for water (UFW) is a key priority, says Diam. “Water enters the system from a range of sources: desalination plants and wells. It is then transported and distributed to our customers by pipe or via tankers. On the way some water is used in PAEW’s own operations but a significant proportion, more than 30 per cent, is not accounted for. Some of this is lost through overflowing reservoirs or leaks and the rest is not recorded properly, due either to fraud or theft, to metering or billing errors, or to a lack of metering,” the state-owned utility explained.
A staggering 129 million cubic metres of potable water across Diam’s nationwide network went unaccounted in 2016, up 25 per cent from the previous year’s figure of 103 million m3. In terms of total supply, unaccounted for water represented a whopping 39 per cent share, although not all of it is in the form of physical losses. Some could be more commercial in nature. Changes in billing practices, as well as the use of estimates in place of actual readings, are often to blame — practices Diam has vowed to change.
In a brief snapshot of the water’s utility financial and operational performance in 2017, Al Mahrouqi listed the 12 per cent improvement in water loss reductions as among the key performance indicators achieved by Diam last year.
Government subsidy to the water sector also declined 12 per cent in 2017 despite a 21 per cent surge in total water supply during the year, according to the official. This compares with a total subsidy of RO 185.724 million in 2016, which was higher than the previous year’s grant of RO 180.665 million. The subsidy per cubic metre of water amounted to 900 baiza in 2016.
Significantly, gross revenue soared 19 per cent in 2017 over the previous year’s figure of RO 102.6 million. This uptick was achieved despite a hefty 52 per cent increase in capital expenditure in 2017, said Al Mahrouqi.
Total water production in 2017 climbed 5 per cent to 347 million m3, up from 329 million m3 a year earlier. The utility also saw its subscriber base burgeon to 483,000 subscribers, up from 435,000 in 2016.
To meet potable water demand growth, Diam is implementing a number of “strategic” water transmission projects, the Chairman said. Most notable is a transmission link from Suhar – a major desalination hub – to the wilayats of Al Dhahirah Governorate. Also under various stages of implementation are water transmission projects in North and South Al Sharqiyah governorates, an initiative to enhance transmission capacity to Al Dakhiliyah Governorate, and a transmission line from the new desalination plant in Qurayat to the Wilayat of Al Amerat.