Yangon’s water supply problems blamed on infrastructure woes
Source: The Myanmar Times
Date: 23 March 2018
Yangon has the highest non-revenue water (NRW) rate -- or water that do not go to the customers because of leaks or theft, among others -- in the Southeast Asia region because of aging water facilities, said U Myo Thein, deputy head of city's water and sanitation engineering department.
"In Yangon, the NRW rate is very high because of old water facilities, damaged meters and illegal and third connections," he said at a recent seminar.
About 60 percent of the 201 million gallons of water a day supplied by the Yangon City Development Committee (YCDC) is NRW, according to the department.
U Myo Thein said YCDC plans large-scale projects to distribute water in the eastern, western and southern areas of Yangon from Lagunbyin and Kokowa water supply projects by 2025.
The Lagunbyin water projects will provide 40 million gallons and the Kokowa project will supply 60 million gallons per day.
He said the NRW problem needs to be solved before these projects start operations.
"Before new water arrives in Yangon from those projects, we have to strengthen the existing water supply system. Otherwise, the NRW rate will be higher," he said.
U Myo Thein said YCDC is taking steps to reduce the rate, and pilot projects have been conducted in some townships in cooperation with development partners.
According to the department, the NRW rate in Yangon will be reduced to 35pc in 2025 and 15pc in 2040.
He said the YCDC has to develop more water supply projects to meet water demand and improve the distribution, pressure, and quality of pipe water.
U Hein Min Latt, resident of a high rise building in South Sayarsan Sanpya quarter of Bahan township, said he wishes the YCDC would reliably deliver water in their area.
"I have to wait till late night, after 9pm to pump water to my apartment on the fifth floor of the building," he said.
"Sometimes I have to wait till after midnight to get water. There is no water in the supply pipe from YCDC earlier in the day," he added. "Some of my neighbors' pumps have burned out because they kept the pump switched on even without water running in the pipe," he said.
U Hein Min Latt said sometimes they get water for only five minutes.
"We also faced continuous water shortages for two or three days last year," he said.
The YCDC replaced old pipes in his area after 2015 and the residents thought that would improve the supply in their area, he added.
"The water pressure was good in the beginning after new pipe were installed, but it is not good now," he said.
The city expects to supply enough water for two million people in 2018, 4.1 million in 2025, and 8 million in 2040.
The total demand coverage of the city water supply will be raised from 40pc in 2018 to 60pc in 2025 and to 80pc in 2040.
U Phyo Min Thein, chief minister of Yangon Region, said the government expects the city to expand west of the Yangon river. He said water supply is one of the important factors in the future development of the city.
U Myo Thein said they are not only trying to reduce non-revenue water but they are also finding new water sources to supply Yangon, which is estimated to become a megacity with a population of about 10 million by 2040.
He said the city currently pumps water from Gyobyu, Hlawga, Phygyi, and Ngamoeyeik reservoirs, and department-owned tubewells.
The department is going to supply water from the Kokowa and Toe rivers and will shut down ground water pumps by 2025.
Yangon's monsoon season starts in May and lasts until October, for a total 2700 millimetres annual rainfall.
The European Union (EU) commended Myanmar for its leading role, nationally and in the region, to seek opportunities for integrated water management.
The EU and its member states are partners with Myanmar in its agenda for water management, providing financial support and capacity building to make full use of the available opportunities, it said in a statement.
"The EU and its member states are committed to continue working with the National Water Resources Committee and other water partners," the statement said. "We believe that together we can achieve our goals and secure water as a valuable sustainable resource for Myanmar."