Improving the operation of urban water supply systems in India: a discussion of unaccounted for water

Improving the operation of urban water supply systems in India: a discussion of unaccounted for water

Project report from the Indo-US FIRE(D) project which aims to institutionalise the delivery of commercially viable urban infrastructure and services at the state, regional and national levels. Looks at the problem of unaccounted for water which it estimates as 50 to 60% of water treated and pumped by water utilities.

The report suggests practical measures for local officials to address reduce water losses distinguishing between physical losses and administrative losses. It identifies key principles for resolving the problem:

  • setting appropriate tariffs that link water prices to consumption and cover production costs
  • establish incentives to improve efficiencies
  • require that public and private utilities be comercially oriented in thier apporach to system management and improve customer satifation
  • replace hidden subsidies with targeted and transparent subsidies, providing life-line services affordable to the disadvantaged (who often pay a high price for non-treated water)
  • develop consumer awareness programs and seek consumer feedback and suggestions on conservation, effective use and optimal cost

The report also contains details of two initiatives to reduce unaccounted for water in India. It sees the way forward as dependent on the role of the private sector and consumer education.

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