August 1 not only marked Emanicipation Day celebrations; it also heralded the official initiation of one of Government’ s budgetary proposals – the levy on domestic and commercial water bills via a Garbage and Sewage Contribution.
Householders are expected to pay $1.50 per day in addition to their regular charge, while commercial users will pay an added 50 per cent of the existing bill – 25 per cent of which will go to the Sanitation Service Authority, while the remaining half goes to the Barbados Water Authority. It is an additional burden Barbadians are preparing themselves for and one that the public will surely comment on as bills start arriving en masse.
As much as access to clean drinking water is a right, it is also a commodified product that has to be accounted for, and in the case of this levy, assist with the treatment and disposal of our sewage. As such, this is prime time to ensure the public is once again educated on the importance of conserving as much as they can.
Water wastage or indifference is unfortunately a reality for some persons, as well as in the case of the very young, who haven’ t yet discerned just how important it is to be water efficient. We raise the point, since primary and secondary school resumes soon and thousands of little ones are back out in their numbers when September rolls around. They are not always the most diligent when it comes to ensuring taps are securely tightened. Much like the school employs different kinds of “monitors” in the classroom, there may need to be water monitors within schools so peers can remind their own to be more
As for householders, our collective attitude to water conservation must change. This is the rainy season, but it is clearly a dry one despite the odd shower here and there. Even if it was raining heavily, only a small percentage of that is captured by our existing mechanisms. It means we do not have the luxury of wasting what may not always be forthcoming. It also means that householders should be mandated to harvest their own rainwater across the board so they can use captured water for secondary purposes, such as washing a vehicle or tending to gardens.
In the same manner that the public are being asked to contribute more for and be mindful of the precious resource, the BWA also has to be more diligent with its leaks programme. We have no doubt the hardworking personnel at the BWA try to fix problems as best they can, and we are more than aware that the South Coast sewage debacle has meant more man hours dedicated to dealing with that problem. However, we cannot deny that reported leaks, small as they are, take far too long to be addressed, despite repeated calls to alert the Authority to the situation.
We have no doubt that customers and members of the public will have quite a lot to say as their bills become due. It is also hoped that the conservation extends to what we all can do – consumers and state department alike – to conserve water as best we can.