Country Water Action: Winning the War against Leaks and Losses | Asian Development Bank

Country Water Action: Winning the War against Leaks and Losses

Project Result / Case Study | 31 December 2010

Maynilad Water Services Inc. is actively detecting leaks using the latest technology to reduce the company's water losses and bring nonstop water supply to customers.

Maynilad Water Services Inc., one of the two water concessionaires serving the Metropolitan Manila Area, pushed forward this year its aggressive non-revenue water (NRW) reduction program with a US$1.5 billion budget. The program will reconfigure Maynilad's existing pipe network into 36 smaller hydraulic areas or District Metered Areas for better supply management and more efficient network troubleshooting. The program also includes NRW diagnostics and increased leak detection teams that use state-of-the-art leak detection equipment.

In 2007, Maynilad's NRW was at 67%, supplying about 1506 million liters per day (mld). An assessment of Maynilad's water balance revealed that 75% of the utility's water is lost due to leakage, averaging 3,382 cases per month in 2010 (January to October 2007 figures). These leakages are generated from the transmission lines up until the distribution lines, including the unknown or unaccounted pipelines that are connected to the system.

In a quick turnabout, the first three quarters of 2010 saw Maynilad's average NRW reduced to 54% of the total system input volume equivalent to 1,198 mld., recovering as much as 308 mld. since 2007. Billed volume back, measured at 777 mld. In 2007, climbed to 1016 mld. Also, service connections increased from 703,519 to 874,527. Maynilad's target is to bring down NRW level to 40% by 2012.

Financial reengineering

Maynilad is responsible for providing water and wastewater services to about 17 cities and municipalities that comprise Metro Manila's West Zone along with nearby towns Bacoor, Imus, Kawit, Noveleta, and Rosario, in Cavite province.

Before becoming a staunch fighter of nonrevenue water, Maynilad was on the brink of bankruptcy, inheriting a huge amount of debt and an inefficient water supply system in the aftermath of the 1998 Asian financial crisis, aggravated by the El Niño phenomenon that reduced the metropolis' water supply to by at least 40%, among other problems.

A successful rebidding in 2007 handed Maynilad to its new owners. Under this new management, Maynilad was able to pay off all its remaining debts and implement an aggressive, two-stage recovery plan designed to bring in revenues and bring down commercial losses. The first stage of the recovery plan involves a system-wide water audit, improving water supply and pressure management, enhancing reservoir management and pump station efficiencies, and upgrading the system's software and information technology facilities. The second stage focuses on the replacement of old water mains, conduct of extensive post-rehabilitation network maintenance, and improvement of overall service repairs and connections.

Maynilad then embarked on a PhP38-billion capital expenditure program for 2008-2012. Improving and expanding the network, increasing organizational efficiency, upgrading customer services, and improving IT systems are just some of their initial interventions. In 2010, it launched an all-out campaign against water losses.

Technologies and partnerships

The significant reduction in the company's NRW level was attributed to its use of state-of-the-art leak detection equipments, expanded and retooled leak detection teams, and intensified leak-repair program for El Nino.

"We use top-of-the-line equipment such as correlators and ground microphones every night looking for leaks", said Christine Acosta, a leak detection engineer for Maynilad. "We work better at night, when there are less curious bystanders, less traffic, less background noise, and fewer distractions. The acoustic equipment we use work better in quieter environments", Christine added.

Maynilad's Leak Detection Management department continuously tries to improve its work in terms of acquiring top-of-the-line equipment available in the market.

Meanwhile, Maynilad recently entered into an NRW Management Twinning Partnerships with 3 water utilities - the Bacolod City Water District, Leyte Metro Water District, and San Pedro Water District. Under the Twinning Partnerships, Maynilad will share its technical expertise and processes for reducing water losses.

Maynilad and its partner water districts will also carry out a series of trainings and consultations to help develop results-oriented strategies to lower NRW.

Expanding the network

Maynilad's long-term plan is to provide 24/7 water supply with adequate pressure. From January to September 2010, the water utility has installed nearly 275 kilometers of new pipes, expanding its water distribution network to 6,295 kilometers. The expansion, worth about PhP2.86 billion, benefited some 73,000 households in Metro Manila's West Zone.

Maynilad's primary and secondary pipe-laying projects also generated employment opportunities for nearly 53,000 people. More recently, an additional 70 kilometers of new pipes has been installed within its concession area.

Meanwhile, the utility's Leak Detection Management teams continue the battle against Metro Manila's leakages and water losses.

The Country Water Action series was developed to showcase reforms and good practices in the water sector undertaken by ADB's member countries. It offers a mix of experience and insights from projects funded by ADB and those undertaken directly by civil society, local governments, the private sector, media, and the academe. The Country Water Actions are regularly featured in ADB's Water for All News, which covers water sector developments in the Asia and Pacific region.