Water leaks cost Govt Rs 167B

Daily water leakages from households are expected to cost the Government Rs 167 billion, Project Director of the Greater Kandy Water project, P.H.S. Gamini said Thursday (7).

Addressing a seminar in Colombo he said the cost of generating one cubic metre of pipe borne water, by the 11,000 employee strong National Water Supply & Drainage Board (NWSDB) was Rs 150, whereas it is provided to the consumer at a subsidized rate of Rs 50 a cubic metre on an average.

He, however, admitted that when taking into account such costing, NWSDB’s huge salary bill also may have to be considered.
The Project Director said that NWSDB’s pipe borne water reach covers 45% of Sri Lanka’s households numbering a total of 1.96 million households, covered under the programme. Gamini said that 55% of households don’t have access to good water. The Government plans to expand this outreach to cover 60% of the households by 2020.

The Project Director said that the cost to the NWSDB per connection is between Rs 300,000 and Rs 400,000 per family.

Considering the fact that Sri Lanka comprises five million families, this cost would amount to Rs 350 billion, he said.

Gamini said that the major reasons for household water leakages were poor quality material being used for plumbing and poor quality plumbing.

In this connection the NWSDB has brought standards for pipes and fittings. Nine types of water fittings, including taps and ball valves, have been standardized and will be effective from 2019, he said. NWSDB also hopes to draw-up standards for three other materials including cisterns shortly, the Project Director said.

Public Utilities Commission of Sri Lanka (PUCSL) Director General Damitha Kumarasinghe, in his speech, said that soon laws will be drawn-up to bring in ‘water’ as another public utility to be regulated by the PUCSL. PUCSL currently regulates only electricity.

He said that in the field of electricity, there are some 21,000 electricians in the country. A census on plumbers has not been made. Of those 21,000 electricians, 15,000 are not qualified, said Kumarasinghe. PUCSL plans to begin an accreditation programme for electricians, and a similar accreditation programme may also be launched for plumbers.

Further, PUCSL has standardized which types of sockets and switches could be sold in the market, which process became operable from last month (August). Kumarasinghe said that several deaths due to electrocution may be pinned down to the use of substandard switches and sockets.

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