Pipeline leaks leading to drinking water loss

At a time when the residents of the capital city are gearing up to face a harsh, water-starved summer, leaks in thousands of domestic connections continue to drain the city’s pipeline network of precious drinking water.

Two years ago, the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) issued a tender for replacing these leaking lines. What with endless problems relating to sanctions for digging up arterial roads, the estimate for the work, and consequent cost overruns, the refurbishment of the leaking lines remains a pipedream.

As part of its studies for the then Japan Bank for International Cooperation-aided scheme (since renamed Japan International Cooperation Agency), the firm Tokyo Engineering Consultants, many years ago, found that the ‘average real loss’ of drinking water owing to leakages was of the order of 35.5 per cent of the total water produced for distribution. The study also calculated that the KWA could save 37 million litres of water a day by replacing 1,47,917 domestic connections. Seventy-five percent of the transmission loss of drinking water in the capital city took place at the ‘house connection points,’ the study said.

An elaborate plan drawn up by the KWA and later approved by the city Corporation spoke of reducing the leaks in these domestic connections from 20 litres a connection an hour to six litres a connection an hour. The plan called for replacing existing pipelines to houses with medium density polyethylene (MDPE) pipes. Back then, such measures were expected to save the KWA Rs.3,35,476 a day.


Sreekumaran Nair, Chief Engineer South of the KWA, told The Hindu that the leak rectification scheme fell through because of the endless delays in getting sanctions for digging up roads. “You can’t replace pipelines laid deep under city roads without digging trenches. In many places, even the local people raised objections saying that they could live with a leaking line but could not tolerate a dug up road. If, now, we are to think of drawing up a new proposal, the authorities concerned should take a firm stand on the issue. Otherwise, the leaks would continue,” he said.