Msunduzi is losing millions of litres of water annually due to theft, ageing infrastructure and leaks that are left unattended for long periods.During 2013/2014 the City lost 22 million kilolitres of water worth R103,2 million and the auditor-general’s report said “this was due to slow infrastructure maintenance, a lack of water meters and theft from illegal connections”. The situation has not improved much as 23,3 million kilolitres, worth R117,8 million, were lost in 2014/2015, and in the following year 21 million kilolitres amounting to R119,72 million.France residents, in ward 13, said they had stopped reporting leaks because the municipality did not fix them. Last month The Witness reported that the area had several leaks, some dating back to January. One had left many residents concerned as it posed a danger to the lives of children who regularly swam where a burst pipe was dug up by the municipality. “They [City officials] came before the September school holidays and dug it up but they never came back to fix it so the water has been gushing out like this day and night.“Every weekend and most afternoons we have to chase away children who have turned this into their swimming pool,” said Nomthandazo Ngwenya.Mbali Zulu said the municipal team had said they would be back within a week. “Maybe they want someone to drown before they do something.”A burst pipe that was dug up by City employees in France has become a safety hazard as children swim in the hole on a regular basis.In last week’s council meeting ACDP’s Reinus Niemand said replacing ageing infrastructure needed immediate attention as leaks due to burst pipes were regularly reported throughout the City. He also said that water theft by car washes was one of the reasons Msunduzi was barely collecting half of the amount it spent on water.Speaking to The Witness after the meeting, he said the ACDP was extremely concerned with the level of theft and abuse of council resources. He said their team recently visited a number of car washes in Edendale and Imbali where they found that the City was being robbed of both water and electricity.“No rates were paid on the land used by these businesses. Council land was being used with no rental/purchase agreement in place. “Water meters were not present. Water was not being paid for. Water was wastefully streaming down the roads with no drainage systems in compliance with council bylaws or pollution specifications,” he said.Niemand said these businesses were being “financed” by the ratepayers who were recently burdened by another high tariff increase by Umgeni Water.“The most disturbing aspect of this travesty, however, was that while the municipal officials were fully aware of the problem that has been going on for years they had made no effort to address the issue, intervene or to stop the practice, prosecute the offenders or recover council’s money.”Four Imbali car wash owners who spoke to The Witness said they were using prepaid electricity and denied that they were not paying for water. Two said they used buckets to fetch water from their homes and Bobo Sithole said he used a hosepipe connected to a yard tap at his neighbour’s house. “I give him about R400 every month for water and R200 for the electricity token,” he said.One car wash owner on Sinkwazi Road refused to show The Witness where his meter was as he had a tap on his premises. Msunduzi Municipality had not responded to a request for comment by the time of going to print.