It’s the leakage, stupid!

A frustrated plumber asks some pressing questions.


Can you think of a nation that can explore space but can’t provide its people with proper water supply?

It’s the second most populous country in the world: great history, great people, great food, great engineers! Yet, more than 99% of its urban population gets water of mediocre quality for only a few hours per day, or even less. Why? Because the pipe networks are in such bad shape that far too much water is lost to operate the systems on a continuous basis.

It’s the leakage, stupid!

Why is one of the most water scarce countries in the world failing to tackle water losses?

A country in the Middle East with unbelievable water scarcity, no available water resources other than seawater desalination, and yet some 50% of the precious, already treated and pumped water is lost in the decrepit distribution networks. The consequence is severe: intermittent supply and ever increasing difficulties to meet the water demand of its fast growing cities. Several studies came to the same conclusion:

It’s the leakage, stupid!

How can a government take no action when water utilities are losing 50% of their treated water, water that could supply half the population?

A beautiful country in Southeast Asia, lovely people, thousands of islands, an abundance of water thanks to a massive rainy season and yet, in most cities, only half the population can be supplied with piped water. There is no concerted national effort to do something although the reason for all the problems is so obvious.

It’s the leakage, stupid!

Sitting on a Goldmine without knowing it

If local governments and other stakeholders would quantify the volume of water lost and calculate the cost of abstracting, treating and pumping it and, even more importantly, the potential future revenues if only a part of the recovered losses could be sold to existing and future water users, they would quickly realize that they are sitting on a goldmine! No other water infrastructure investment has payback times of less than 10 years, sometimes significantly less.

It’s the leakage, stupid!

Would you want your house built as poorly as water pipes are installed and repaired?

The poor quality of fittings and repair materials, combined with substandard workmanship and nonexistent supervision, ensure continued high levels of water losses in low- and middle-income countries. Even in countries with advanced water utilities, the quality of pipe-fitting and repair work is sometimes appalling and, all too often, hard to admit. You wouldn’t want your house to be built like that! What happens thanks to all these shortcomings?

It’s the leakage, stupid!

Do you know of an industry that could survive losing 30% of its production?

Imagine a brewery which fills its kegs and when they are delivered to the pub one third of the beer has been lost on the way. They wouldn’t be in business for very long. Or imagine the price of mineral water if every third bottle broke on the way to the supermarket? But yet, the global water industry operates exactly like that! Why?

It’s the leakage, stupid!

Would you be reading this blog if you had been doing what the IWA and many others have advised for the last 30 years?

Probably not, because you would have known “it’s the leakage” and you would have been motivated to deal with it. Your network would now be efficient and you could operate your system in the most economical way, using precious water resources wisely and ensuring the financial sustainability of your water utility.

Nothing would be leaking anymore.


Interested in learning how to end the leakage?

Join us at the IWA World Water Congress in Tokyo for a training workshop:


NRW Assessment and Management in Low and Middle Income Countries

Date: 19 September 2018 (Full day)
Organiser: IWA Water Loss Specialist Group
Trainers: Roland Liemberger – Non Revenue Water Specialist Miya, Austria, Bambos Charalambous, – Director Hydrocontrol, Cyprus , Stuart Hamilton, Managing Director, HydroTec, UK

Register soon to avoid missing out. Places are limited to 35 participants to ensure a true interactive learning experience:


Roland Liemberger

NRW Management Advisor at Miya
For the last thirty years Roland Liemberger has worked on Non-Revenue Water (NRW) reduction and water utility efficiency improvement projects around the world, primarily in Low and Middle Income Countries. Roland was involved in several large NRW red... Read full biography