ABOUT 60 per cent of water supply Solomon Water generates is lost through theft and leakage.
General Manager Richard Austin revealed this on Wednesday when Solomon Water formally received the $150 million water supply improvement project for Honiara and Auki, from the Japanese Government.
Mr Austin said people steal water through illegal connections.
“There seems to be a morality here in the Solomon Islands that says it is OK to connect into water pipes and steal the water,” Mr Austin said.
“We need every part of government and society to condemn this common practice,” he added.
“The reality is that it is theft and the message must be sent that illegal connections are unacceptable and anti-social.
“Unfortunately, it is an endemic problem.
“As soon as we disconnect these illegal connections, they spring up again. We are fighting a continuous battle of disconnection followed by reconnection.
“We need everybody’s help to get this message across – It is not okay to steal water,” Mr Austin said.
He said Solomon Water suffered from an unacceptably high level of Non-Revenue Water (NRW) losses.
However, Mr Austin said Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is helping them with the three-year Technical Cooperation Project designed to build their internal capacity to reduce NRW to acceptable levels and manage it into the future.
“Presently, our losses run on average at about 60% and we cannot survive with that level of loss.
“We have an ambitious target to reduce that to 30% over the next few years – in fact as quickly as possible.
“We are working with the JICA NRW Expert team to implement our own aggressive strategy to reduce losses.”
He said if Solomon Water could reduce its losses to reasonable levels, they could save the capital investment required to construct another new source in the future.
“Money that we invest now in improving our network and reducing NRW will pay dividends by reducing the need for future capital expenditure and increased operating costs as well as improving our services to our customers, increasing our sales and improving our financial strength.
“We have a priority list of some 40km of water distribution mains that are in urgent need of replacement because of their poor condition or their lack of capacity to transmit sufficient water flow.
“We are now planning to implement a pilot contract to see how best we can start a continuous programme of replacement.
“However, this programme will take several years and there is another 50 km of pipeline on the less critical list that will have to be tackled at some time,” Mr Austin said.
By OFANI EREMAE