Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is losing thousands of dollars in revenue due to water leaks and obsolete water meters, a council report showed.
The out-dated water meters, which the local authority says should be replaced throughout Bulawayo, have been cited as the reason council produces estimated water bills instead of actual consumption figures.
Over the years, residents have complained of the estimated bills from the local authority, accusing council of swindling them.
The disconnection of water supplies for overdue payments based on estimated bills has compounded the problem.
According to the latest council report, there was a lot of unaccounted for or “non-revenue water” that was being lost every month.
The report showed statistics of water poduced against water consumed and the difference being water unaccounted for from the period of March 2010 to September 2011.
The statistics revealed that in September 2011, water produced was 4 035 683 cubic metres, billed water was 2 428 632 cubic metres and unaccounted for water was
1 607 053 cubic metres, which translated to 40% of all the treated water.
According to the report, water unaccounted for differed every month.
In October 2010, the local authority recorded 2 604 815 cubic metres of unaccounted for water.
The report states the incomplete reading of the meter cycle and the aged water meter led to estimated bills and an increase in unaccounted for water.
“The age of the water meters throughout the city could also be a contributing factor as 70% were well above 20 years old, thus their accuracy was compromised.”
Councillors called for the need to urgently reduce billing errors and also find a way to reduce water unaccounted for every month.
“Most of the utility bills had estimated water meter readings which were confusing,” said councillor Reuben Matengu in the report.
“A resident in Nkulumane has an estimated bill of $1 700 when the property in question had been abandoned.”
In response, the Engineering Services director Simela Dube said a programme was in place to take care of the unaccounted for water.
In terms of estimated bills, Dube said the city needed to rehabilitate water meters so that correct meter readings will be taken.