DPM Davis updates The House on Non-Revenue Water‏

Deputy Prime Minister Philip Davis.

Nassau, Bahamas – Enclosed is a Communication by Hon. Philip E. Davis Member Of Parliament (Cat Island, Rum Cay, and San Salvador)Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Of Works & Urban Development on Water And Sewerage Corporation Non-Revenue Water (NRW),  19th November 2014  in the House Of Assembly Commonwealth Of The Bahamas Nassau, New Providence:

Again, I am so grateful to the good people of the Cat Island, Rum Cay, and San Salvador Constituency whom I have the privilege to serve and on whose shoulders I stand.

Today, I rise to deliver a brief but very important communication to this Parliament on the status of Non-Revenue Water (NRW) generated by the Water and Sewerage Corporation.  This communication is important because it is good news that affects the pocket and comfort of each water consumer in New Providence.

Mr. Speaker

Non-Revenue Water is water for which no money is collected by the Water & Sewerage Corporation. It consists mainly of water losses through wastage, that is, by way of leaks from the Corporation’s infrastructure; unauthorised use such as theft; and on a lesser scale, metering errors; and through authorised usage such as fire-fighting and mains flushing.

Mr. Speaker

Historically, the Water & Sewerage Corporation has, because of old and degraded local water distribution utilities, recorded leakage of its potable water as high as fifty percent (58%) of its supply.  In an effort to address this challenge, Miya Water, is contractually engaged by the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) to maximise the efficiency of its water systems, that is, to reduce non-revenue water.

As part of its Corporate Business Plan which is being partially financed by an $81Mn loan from the Inter-American Development Bank, the Corporation entered into a 10-year agreement with Miya Water (a member of the Arison Group) to reduce water losses from what was then estimated at 5 Million gallons per day (Migd) to 2.5 Million gallons per day in 5 years and to 2.0 Migd in 7 years.  Further, Miya Water was contracted to maintain those reductions until Year 10. Miya conducted studies in 2012 and developed a comprehensive strategy for water loss reduction. They then commenced implementation in 2013. During its studies, Miya determined that losses were actually almost 6.9 Migd but despite this, the Corporation and Miya have made significant progress.

Also by way of background, Consolidated Water Co. Ltd. (CWCO) provides bulk water under long-term contracts to the Water and Sewerage Corporation.  This cost/benefit decision saw the cessation of water barging from Andros to New Providence.  Consolidated owns and operates two desalination plants on New Providence and supplies over 90% of the potable water distributed by the Corporation.

Mr. Speaker

Here is the good news.  This year, for the first time since its engagement, Consolidated Water reported that its revenues for 2014 were significantly decreased.  This decrease is directly attributed to the efforts of the Water & Sewerage Corporation and Miya Water Bahamas to reduce water losses in New Providence.

In just over 18 months of implementation, NRW has been reduced from its initial level of 6.9Migd, to 4.9Migd on an annual basis.  Miya has already exceeded its target of 5.5Migd for 2014 at the prompting of the Corporation’s Management and Board of Directors.

Mr. Speaker

The direct benefits of these accomplishments are obvious and reflected in Consolidated Water’s recent report of reduced revenues. As recently as 2013, both desalination plants were running at full capacity and any interruption in water production resulted in depletion of storage and rationing supplies to consumers.  Now, WSC is able to authorise occasional plant shutdowns and Consolidated Water is able to perform it preventive maintenance programmes with little or no effect on water supply.

Mr. Speaker

The benefits do not end there.  As a result of the infrastructure installed, and the monitoring and control equipment put in place under the project, the number and frequency of leaks have decreased, thereby reducing overtime requirements and allowing the Corporation to focus on other maintenance activities.  Software introduced under the project has also integrated the customer service, work order management, and distribution monitoring systems into a seamless NRW and general asset management system.

Mr. Speaker

I am very proud to note that under an agreement signed between BTC and WSC during 2002-2007, there are over 250 monitoring points in the distribution system being serviced through BTC’s data network.  This allows the Corporation to detect and react to system problems more efficiently and effectively.  This is in addition to a control system which now allows the Corporation to monitor its tank levels, pump operation status, and to even control those pumps if required.

Over the life of the project it is expected that more than 10 billion gallons of water will be saved.  By avoiding production of this water, we will save 7 million gallons of diesel and 33 gigawatts-hours of electricity.  This is, I am advised, equivalent to powering over 600 households and over 800 vehicles for 10 years.

This is good news, Mr. Speaker!

As I mentioned earlier, this critical and already successful project is partially financed by an $81Mn loan programme with the IDB whose specific objectives are to:

(i)                reduce water losses;

(ii)             strengthen the institution of the WSC;

(iii)           upgrade and rehabilitate selected sewerage infrastructure; and

(iv)           improve the legal and regulatory framework of the sector.

The goal of these initiatives is the financial and operational sustainability of the Corporation.  By all accounts, the Water & Sewerage Corporation is well on its way to making the grade, though we acknowledge there is much more to be done.

Mr. Speaker

Other major activities in progress include the preparation of a Sewerage Master Plan for New Providence and drafting legislation to enable URCA to regulate the water sector as it does the communications sector, and as is planned for the electricity sector.

The Corporation is also reviewing an automated meter-reading system, which is compatible with existing BEC meters and which could allow both corporations to integrate meter reading and possibly billing, thus improving operational efficiency and customer service for both organisations.

WSC is also in discussions with its major Family Islands desalinated water supplier, Aqua Design/GE and third parties, to introduce renewable (wind) energy at its production facilities thus lowering the cost of water production in the Family Islands.

Mr. Speaker

The saying goes, “No news is good news.”  I disagree and hold to the creed that “beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things.”  Today, I congratulate the Board of Directors, Management and Staff of the Water & Sewerage Corporation along with its partner Miya for diligently working to bring much needed relief to the people of The Bahamas.  I also thank Consolidated Water for ensuring that the Corporation has a reliable and now plenteous supply of water.

Good news, Mr. Speaker.  Thank God for good news!