The country is losing up to Sh8.9 billion annually due to leakages, illegal connections and poor management, the Water Services Regulatory Board (Wasreb) has revealed.
According to its latest report, non-revenue water (NRW) is currently at 43 per cent, way above the acceptable benchmark of 20 per cent.
NRW is the difference between the quantity of water put into the distribution system and what is billed or unbilled as authorised consumption.
Out of the total number of 88 service providers assessed, NRW had the least Key Performance Index (KPI), with only eight being within the acceptable range.
115 MILLION CUBIC METRES
Expressing concern, the board's chief executive officer, Mr Robert Gakubia, said the volume of 115 million cubic metres lost every year is adequate to serve Nairobi County with a daily demand of 750,000 cubic metres for five months after allowing for the 20 per cent acceptable level of loss.
"It is, therefore, evident that NRW starves the sector of the scarce resource which can be harnessed to significantly improve access levels," he said, noting that NRW has shot by two percent in 2018/19 when compared to 2017/18.
In support of this fight, the regulator is developing an online system for anonymously reporting on NRW with the rallying call of Operation Okoa Maji, he said.
The agency's CEO expressed confidence that the initiative will help in reduction of the current service provision gap without the need to build new infrastructure or exploit new water sources in the short to medium term.
"In addition, reducing water losses has the potential to increase revenues for utilities while also reducing unit operating costs and thus unlocking savings that can be used to expand access and improve service delivery," he said.
Nyeri, Meru, Muthambi 4K performed well on non-revenue water while Nithi, Kwale, Homa Bay, Sibo, Gusii, Kitui, Kirinyaga and Lamu had dismal management.
On non-sewerage coverage, the report indicates that access has declined over time with the current figure of 17 percent being lower than that reported 10 years ago of 19 per cent.
This is attributed to population increase and rapid urbanisation.