To supply water in rapidly urbanizing cities, service providers face the challenges of producing sufficient drinking water and extending infrastructure networks to satisfy the demand for water throughout cities’ urban fabrics.
Much work goes into extending water distribution pipelines and increasing the capacity of water treatment facilities to meet daily household consumption rates. While upgrading water infrastructures to increase coverage is an ongoing mission, attention to non-revenue water also becomes a central concern.
Non-revenue water refers to water loss due to physical (real) losses (e.g. leaks) and/or apparent losses (e.g. illegal connections). In Cebu, Philippines, the water operator Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) reported up to 39% of non-revenue water in 2008 mainly due to leakages from old failing polybutylene pipes. In this context, MCWD formed a Water Operators’ Partnership (WOP) with City West Water (CWW) from Melbourne, Australia. The aim of the partnership was to reduce non-revenue water in a pilot area, improve water supply distribution, and manage data collection and information systems. With headquarters based in Metro Manila, the Asian Development Bank acted as the facilitator of the Water Operators’ Programme in 2008, and continued with a total of 11 partnerships by 2009 through the Warlinks platform.
As a result of a two-year collaboration between MCWD and CWW, non-revenue water was reduced to 11.6% in the pilot area (successfully reached below the targeted 15%), and information on hydraulic modeling, asset management and organizational improvement was shared between the two partners. Although significant investments are still needed to replace water distribution mains, the positive outcomes of the partnership will continue to develop in the future. Statements from CWW affirmed that “the partnership has been a great way to develop new staff, while providing fresh inspiration for long-time employees” and affirms “it has been an effective way to exercise corporate social responsibility.” MCWD staff stated: “Metro Cebu is now better equipped to solve its problems based on the experience.”