The Water Hole

Written By: The Lowdown - Jun• 29•13

front cover smallLusaka residents look set to drastically reduce their water usage, thanks to the brand new pre-paid meters that the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) will be installing this year.


This startling initiative has been inspired by a combination of both a public outcry and pilot study conducted by the LWSC in 2007 in Libala, which investigated the pros and cons of installing pre-paid meters.


The post-paid meter did not put customers in control of their water usage and also prevented customers from being able to budget and pre-plan how much water was consumed. The 2007 study not only examined how the pre-paid meter would work, but also took into account behavioural patterns and consumer feedback. The results were good but not good enough to establish the technology back then. However, the pilot did help LWSC establish a different payment system: pre-paid (from post-paid).


Now that the conditions are right, LWSC have resolved to install 10,000 pre-paid meters this year at an enormous cost, none of which will be transferred to the customer. The areas in which the company will install the pre-paid meters include Kafue, Luangwa and Chongwe outside Lusaka city; Fairview, Libala South, Kamwala South, Libala, Kabwata and Kaunda Square within the city. A further 12,500 pre-paid meters are still in the tendering process and have yet to be procured.


LWSC currently have 80,000 customers in Lusaka city but are only able to service approximately 22,500 customers with the new pre-paid meters this year.


The pre-paid meter comes equipped with a handheld device that will communicate with the actual meter itself, which is submerged in the ground at the point of entry to a resident’s yard. This will then replace the ‘old’ post-paid meter and re-establish a water connection that will enable consumers to conveniently pay for their water usage before using it. The handheld device would be secured on the wall in the house. This device is used to process units a customer buys that will be communicated with the actual pre-paid meter submerged halfway into the ground.


Statistics have shown that up to 80% of water used domestically ends up in the drain. Lusaka residents connected to the LWSC sewer line will have 30% of their bills charged as ‘sewer charge.’ So, for example, if a customer’s water bill is KR 100, there will be a top-up of KR 30 for sewerage bringing the bill to KR 130 in total.


LWSC have ensured that most of the pre-paid meters installed will be PVC (plastic) to tackle the issue of vandalism. Their research has proved that much of the infrastructure they install is not tampered with due to the switch to plastic material – vandals tend to sabotage metal installations for the purposes of selling the metal. Other advantages for the company also include an increase in the collection ratio of revenue generated from customer billing.


Advantages for the customer include: increased customer-control over usage and expenditure guaranteeing customers only pay for what they use; no abrupt disconnections; no disputes about bills and responsible water usage saving more water for future use. But most of all, the installation of the pre-paid meter is free! The cost is never transferred to the customer.


For further details about the pre-paid meters that could be installed in your area soon, visit  For regular updates on what the LWSC is planning in your area, visit their Facebook page Lusaka Water Sewerage Company or call 0211 250-002. Text: 3455.


Let’s hope by closing the water hole, you’ll have more money in your pocket.


By Stuart Lisulo

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