Lima Loses $112 Million A Year In Water Theft

Lima’s state water utility company, Sedapal, says that each year it loses close to 300 million soles ($112 million) due to theft of water, daily El Comercio reported.

Sedapal chairman Anibal Ismodes said a high number of the current robberies are being perpetrated by companies and families that don’t pay for the service through clandestine connections.  The water being robbed is equivalent to 17.5% of the annual water supply to the city.

Ismodes said that Sedapal is seeking ways to decrease the theft.

“We are increasing our capacity to intervene. People believe the water is straight from the river and so have the right to use it,” Ismodes said. “These robberies are harmful because they are resources that aren’t paid for and as a result, we aren’t investing for others who need it.”

He pointed out, however, that the clandestine connections are not all necessarily made by people and industries in poor areas of the city.

Last year, Ismodes said, Sedapal discovered a clandestine water connection through an 80mm pipe in the upscale Jockey Plaza shopping mall. The pipe had been installed, according to Ismodes, by Chilean-owned Cencosud, which owns the Wong and Metro supermarket chains.   Another illicit connection was found in a building in the upscale El Polo area.

Ismodes said a possible privatization of Sedapal —encouraged by private project development companies in Lima since the privatization boom of the 1990s— would result in higher rates for consumers because current utility rates would not be sufficiently profitable for a private company. 

The use of water in Peru is a major issue, particularly along its arid coast and mountain regions. Lima, the country’s capital, is the second largest desert city in the world, after Cairo.

According to the dean of the Lima College of Engineers, Luis Mejía, Lima has a guaranteed water supply for only three years unless major investments are made to secure  the supply from the Andes.

A large number of people in Lima’s poorest, outlying areas do not have access to running water, and are forced to buy their water from water trucks that make weekly or monthly visits, paying several times more than people served by the Sedapal network.

One Comment

  1. #1 the article you are quoting in el comercio is not a news source, it is paid for promotion. Look at the logo next to the article. This is a preemptive campaign by sedapal to prevent privatization. #2 The loss is not from theft so much as it is lost to leakage of old and abandoned infrastructure. This is estimated at over 50% and is one of the worst rates of leakage for a major city in the world. #3 This has all been known for quite some time, and the strategy to blame “theft” is a weak attempt to throw out a red herring so no one asks what the heck happened to the billions of $ spent under “agua para todos”. Leak repair was actually a budget item. And a “guaranteed water supply for only 3 years” ???? What about the nearly 2 million residents of Lima who already have to buy their water from trucks? You should know the difference between propaganda and news by now.

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