Illegal connection control
Proactive, effective and comprehensive identification and investigation of illegal connections.
Illegal connection control is the proactive, effective and comprehensive identification and investigation of illegal water consumers in the water supply areas .
Illegal connections can be categorized as follows :
- Meter bypass: The customer has an alternative pipe tapping off water before the meter.
- Illegal connection: The consumer is not a customer of the water supply system but has connected himself to the network.
- Illegal reconnection: The customer reconnects himself to the network after having been disconnected for non-payment.
- Meter reversal: The customer installs the meter in reverse order so that it counts backwards to a desired reading.
- Meter tampering: The customer intentionally corrupts the meter so as to affect its efficiency or functionality.
PURPOSE & LINK TO INTEGRITY
Installing and maintaining illegal connections usually involves unethical behaviour from customers, external contractors and staff of utilities (meter readers, technical staff). By eradicating these practices, fraud and corruption can be reduced and more water will be available for legal consumption. Utilities can improve planning and make more reliable demand projections . In this way, operational costs can be decreased, revenues increased and a better service as well as higher customer satisfaction can be achieved. Ultimately the utility can achieve autonomy in delivering sustainable services .
Does your organization have standard operating procedures or job descriptions in place that the illegal connection control has to be aligned with (See also tools Standard operating procedures, Connection procedures, Disconnection & reconnection procedures, Meter reading procedures and Job descriptions)?
UN HABITAT (2008) suggests establishing and institutionalising a dedicated illegal use reduction unit within a utility. The procedures that can be adopted to institutionalise the framework include [1, 3]:
- Illegal use reduction policy: The most senior management together with the technical team should develop this policy concerning illegal use of water.
- Publicity: After developing a policy, it is important to notify the public about your position as a utility on the issue of illegal use of water.
- Amnesty: After the community has understood your position on illegal usage, the next stage is to start cleaning up. The number of illegal cases may be so great that dealing with each of them legally is uneconomical. Amnesty is therefore paramount at this stage. An amnesty period of three months is realistic.
- Reward mechanism for informers: Once the amnesty period expires, it is important to start the hunt. Much of the responsibility for tracing illegal cases falls on the illegal use reduction team, but they can never comb the entire area. Informers are useful when it comes to reporting these cases.
- Fines: The penalties should be defined. However, payment agreements (e.g. on monthly basis) should be possible.
- Identification of illegal use cases: Before carrying out any investigation on-site, ensure you have a helpful list narrowing down your suspected customers, such as: customers with a bad history, suppressed accounts, people who once applied for water but did not complete the process, off-supply customers, etc.
- Generate an up-to-date customer database service.
- Create a basic water accounting system to collect information on: total water produced, account water, non-account water, metered and accounted for but not billed, unmetered water, etc.
- Investigation and sanctioning of illegal use cases: Depending on the suspected type of illegal connection (see description), there are various procedures to detect an illegal connection.
- Prevention of illegal use: Depending on the suspected type of illegal connection (see description), there are various procedures to prevent an illegal connection.
KEY GUIDING DOCUMENTS
UN HABITAT, 2012, Reduction of Illegal Water, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN HABITAT), Utility Management Series for Small Towns, Volume 6, Kenya
UN HABITAT, 2008, Illegal use reduction operation manual, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN HABITAT), Kenya
SUWASA, 2013, Nigeria – Consumer Count Aims to Improve Utility Revenue, Sustainable Water and Sanitation in Africa (SUWASA), Kenya
Bacolod City District, 2013, What is an illegal connection?, Bacolod City District
Roggers, 2012, Illegal water connections put on notice, News24Kenya
Werchota, R., Onyango, P., 2013, Management of non-revenue water and good governance in Kenya, Africa Water, Sanitation & Hygiene.
- UN HABITAT, 2008, Illegal use reduction operation manual, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN HABITAT), Kenya
- SUWASA, 2013, Nigeria – Consumer Count Aims to Improve Utility Revenue, Sustainable Water and Sanitation in Africa (SUWASA), Kenya
- Colorado Water Conservation Board, 2005, Model Water Conservation Plan Development Guidance Document, Colorado Water Conservation Board, USA