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Ho Chi Minh City spills 30 percent of clean water through leaking pipes

Thousands of families in outlying districts are forced to depend on ground water.

Ho Chi Minh City lost nearly 30 percent of its clean water in 2016 through leaking and broken pipes, according to a new report from the city's utility company.

Saigon Water Corporation (Sawaco) said it delivered around 630 million cubic meters of clean water last year, but some people were still unable to turn on the taps.

Around 28 percent or 177 million cubic meters went to waste, worth at least VND940 billion ($41.5 million) based on the lowest tap water price of VND5,300 a cubic meter.

The company said it aims to reduce the rate of lost water to 26 percent this year and 25 percent in 2020, but a new order from the city's government said the rate of water loss should be less than 10 percent by then.

Experts said the current loss rate is too high compared to 5-7 percent in most countries, and 8 percent in the nearby provinces of Binh Duong and Ba Ria-Vung Tau.

The lost water would be enough to supply hundreds of thousands of people, they said.

Sawaco said the main reason for the leaks is that many parts of its water infrastructure are too old, with some built more than 30 years ago and some in the colonial era.

This huge water loss is even more questionable considering many residents still lack access to clean water.

Thousands of families in outlying districts have relied on ground water for years, a source that has been running short and become polluted recently.

The city has estimated that it will need another $3 million to supply water to all houses by 2025.