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SPAN: Water theft causes drop in water pressure and affects consumers


Mohd Fazil showing a sample of water that turned red during testing at a farm in Klang, indicating that it is treated water.

WATER theft in commercial areas throughout Malaysia in 2020 saw as much as 25% to 30% loss of treated water due to under-registration of customer meters, data handling errors and illegal tapping.

National Water Services Commission (SPAN) corporate communications and customer affairs unit director Mohd Fazil Ismail

said more than 1.6 million cubic metres of stolen treated water was recorded as non-revenue water (NRW) for last year.

“Clean drinking water is siphoned from main pipes for water-intensive industrial activities and agriculture, among other purposes.

“In 2020, revenue loss from water theft was estimated at RM4.3mil, and this resulted in SPAN and Pengurusan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Air Selangor) conducting joint raids to nab the culprits.

“Our efforts required a lot of surveillance time and relied a lot on tip-offs, which resulted in 177 water theft cases across the country being uncovered last year, ” he said, adding that all cases were still under investigation.

Mohd Fazil said water theft was more than a nuisance as it created a drop in water pressure and affected consumers as they would not be able to use their water appliances at times.

“From January to March this year, there were 35 cases of water theft reported by each of the state water operators, ” he noted.

Air Selangor said in a statement in February that it managed to bring down the NRW rate by 1.1% to 28.6% from 29.7% in 2019, exceeding the target rate of 29.2% set by SPAN.

The company aims to bring this rate further down by 0.5% this year, as it is committed to reducing the NRW rate to 25% by 2025.

Air Selangor has come up with a key performance indicator to ensure that its NRW rate reduction target is achieved through its team of leak specialists, who are tasked with detecting leaking pipes on distribution pipelines in the active leakage control programme, establishing 75 district metering zones and replacing old pipes, especially the asbestos cement type.

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