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Cost recovery strategies for non-revenue water at eThekwini Municipality.

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Water utilities worldwide lose a total of $141 billion per year (R2357.52 billion) in revenues due to non-revenue water (NRW). South Africa (SA) is losing revenue approximated at R7.2 billion annually due to water-loss scourge; eThekwini Municipality (EM) is losing R700 million annually due to its NRW currently sitting at 50 percent, whereas 15 percent is internationally accepted best practice. NRW of 50 percent is apparent and real losses, 15 percent and 35 percent respectively. The aim of the research is to explore cost recovery strategies for NRW at EM by; determining NRW key drivers; investigating extent, effects and implications; exploring effective and efficient information and communications technology support systems (I&CTSS); adopting effective and efficient cost recovery software programs; and by assessing effective and efficient billing and metering systems. This is a qualitative desktop analysis research of content such as: the state of NRW in SA, NRW global best practices, quantifying global NRW problem, SA’s Municipal utilities assessments & audits on NRW, Water-loss management and NRW reduction, Guidelines of reducing NRW in SA, from; the DWS and WRC Reports, M. Farley, A. Lambert, R. Liemberger, A. Wyatt, R. McKenzie & V. Kanakoudis. Findings of the research: determined the key drivers of NRW as the unmetered properties such as rural and informal settlements, hostels, low-cost housing, firefighting equipment, high burst rate and leakages, overflowing frequency of water pipes and reservoirs respectively, slow response to burst and leaks due to human capital and plant capacity issues. Water purchased from Umgeni Water Board, EWS could only account for 59.4 percent, and 40.6 percent was recorded as water loss. Over the years EWS used numerous (I&CTSS) tools such as; WhatsApp Hotline, e-Services, c-Services, online/email services, App, Toll-free numbers, SMS Hotline, Facebook Page etc. Revenue Management System (RMS) is challenging in many instances and disruptive on daily operational functions and duties of EWS. Water Conservation and Water Demand Management (WC/WDM) Business Plan and strategy is recommended; to reduce system input volume, increase water reuse, install water meters, ensure clean audits, increase billed metered consumption, introduce flat rate, enforce water supply By-Laws and apply tariff amendments.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.