One leak detected every six minutes

PETALING JAYA - Every six minutes, Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) detects a pipe leak on its water distribution network.

Syabas CEO Datuk Ruslan Hassan said the company found 5,357 pipe bursts and 84,640 pipe leaks in its 26,000km of pipes between Nov 2012 and Oct 2013.

"Many of the bursts and leaks were due to very old pipes, which are structurally weak, and burst under pressure or due to external loads," he said.

He added that some of these occurred due to poor workmanship or materials, or not following proper standards.

Ruslan said most of the bursts occurred at old asbestos-cement (AC) pipes, of which there were 5,663km as of June 2013.

He said Syabas changed 800km of AC pipes from 2005 to 2008, before most of its capital expenditure works were frozen by the Selangor Government.

Despite these leaks and bursts, Syabas said it carried out programmes to maintain water quality in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.

These included air and manual scouring, manual and robotic cleaning of reservoirs as well as quality sampling and monitoring.

Ruslan said Syabas also stops illegal water use and disconnects offenders before reporting them to the National Water Services ComĀ­mission (SPAN).

He added that the commission would take action against them, while Syabas takes civil action against illegal users for the water loss.

It has also replaced 941,355 meters since 2005, especially those older than seven years.

Syabas did not say how many water theft and illegal use cases it encountered.

Under the Water Services Industry Act 2006, those guilty of unlawful water connections could face a maximum fine of RM100,000 (S$38,000), or a year's imprisonment, or both.

SPAN said 75 per cent to 80 per cent of non-revenue water (NRW) was caused by physical losses such as leaks and overflowing reservoirs.

Commercial losses such as unauthorised consumption, including theft and illegal use, and inaccurate meters comprised some 15 per cent to 20 per cent of NRW.

The remaining percentage (below 5 per cent) of NRW was attributed to unbilled authorised consumption, such as fire-fighting, flushing of mains and reservoirs, relief and free water.