EghtesadOnline: It is estimated that 600 million cubic meters of water is wasted in the country every year. From this colossal malfunction the loss of 153 mcm (non-revenue water) cannot be avoided, head of the customer department at the National Water and Wastewater Engineering Company (Abfa) said.
"Abfa's non-revenue water (in urban areas) is 25.5%, of which 11.8% are real losses [through leaks, also referred to as physical loss] and 13.7% are apparent losses [theft and meter measuring errors]," Ali Seyyedzadeh was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Non-revenue water in rural regions is 30%, Financial Tribune reported.
Abfa fixed 1.2 million faulty water meters plus 15,000 kilometers of leaky pipelines between 2009 and 2018, he said, without providing details.
The utility has also checked and repaired 221 kilometers of pipelines in addition to 126,000 water meters nationwide since March 2019.
Non-revenue water refers to water that has been produced and lost in different ways before it reaches the customer.
"The rate of water wastage in developed states is 15% and there is no such thing as ‘zero wastage’ even in the most developed nations," Seyyedzadeh said, adding that as per the Sixth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2017-22), the loss rate should decrease 0.5% annually to reach 23% in 2022.
Reducing non-revenue wastage by 1% (including detection, monitoring and preventing water leaks in the distribution system) demands annual investment of $123 million.
Almost half of the water network in cities and small towns are old and need to be replaced to reduce the monumental water loss in the network as Iran continues to struggle with the worsening water crisis due largely to inefficient arming methods, over consumption and waste.
It is estimated that 6 billion cubic meters of water enters water-pipe networks in urban areas every year.
The benefits of reducing non-revenue water are abundant. The less drinking water the utilities need to treat and pump in their network – the less energy they use.
Moreover, the less leaks from potable water systems into sewage pipelines – the less sewage water needs to be pumped and treated.
Likewise, less water loss means less water abstraction, less stress on depleting underground resources and less risk of contaminating drinking water.
Pointing to Japan where the rate of non-revenue water is 7%, the Abfa official said advanced infrastructure has helped the Asian economic power to cut the rate to as low as 3.4% in Tokyo.
A World Bank study puts the global estimate of physical water loss at 32 billion cubic meters a year, half of it in the developing countries. Water utilities suffer from the huge financial costs of treating and pumping water only to see it leak into the ground and lost revenues from water that could otherwise be sold.
If the water loss in developing countries could be halved, the saved water would be enough to supply 90 million people.
Seyyedzadeh went on to say that over the past five years more than 350 Iranian engineers have received training in Japan on how to preserve non-revenue water.
Managing dwindling water resources is more challenging in rural areas due to decentralized networks and lack of water meters.
Data from the Geological Survey & Mineral Explorations in Iran show 37 million Iranians live in water-stressed regions. This is while per capita water use in metropolises, such as Tehran and Isfahan, exceeds 200 liters, whereas the global average is 150 liters.
Located in one of the world's most water-stressed regions, Iran suffers from low rainfall and excessive consumption as well as high levels of water loss because of aging infrastructure, water-intensive farming and outdated irrigation methods.
Some energy experts say raising water and power tariffs can play a major role in stabilizing the key sectors and curb consumption.
The Energy Ministry’s proposal to increase water and electricity tariffs was ratified by the government last year, based on which the prices rose by 7%.