WASA urged to introduce meter system

WASA is be­ing en­cour­aged to in­tro­duce a me­ter sys­tem, to mon­i­tor wa­ter us­age across the coun­try.

This was just one, of many sug­ges­tions put for­ward by a Joint Se­lect Com­mit­tee on Land and Phys­i­cal In­fra­struc­ture. The com­mit­tee re­leased its 6th Re­port on an in­quiry in­to the main­te­nance of drainage and road­ways on Wednes­day.

“We did rec­om­mend or sup­port the rec­om­men­da­tion that came out of the in­quiry in re­la­tion to me­ter­ing. The first thing is that the Wa­ter and Sew­er­age Au­thor­i­ty will have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing ex­act­ly how that wa­ter us­age is tak­ing place,” said Com­mit­tee Mem­ber Nigel De Fre­itas dur­ing a press con­fer­ence con­cern­ing the re­port at Tow­er D yes­ter­day.

“What that al­so means is that WASA will not be able to charge for wa­ter that does not reach its de­sired des­ti­na­tion,” he said.

The com­mit­tee al­so stressed that the au­thor­i­ty need­ed to re­duce its stag­ger­ing debt lev­el. They sug­gest­ed that WASA use a “name and shame” ap­proach to deal­ing with delin­quent cus­tomers via the pub­li­ca­tion of those cus­tomers’ names on news­pa­pers and web­sites.

The com­mit­tee al­so sug­gest­ed that WASA and the Min­istry of Works and Trans­port should work clos­er to­geth­er to en­sure the greater health of the na­tion’s roads and its wa­ter sup­ply.

“The col­lab­o­ra­tion with oth­er en­ti­ties, be­tween WASA and the Min­istry of Works and Trans­port, for ex­am­ple, is not ex­act­ly where it should be to al­low for things such as time­ly fix­ing of leaks,” said De Fre­itas.

“What is hap­pen­ing there, is be­cause of the age of the pipework and net­work that we have in Trinidad and To­ba­go the process by which a road is fixed will cause leaks to hap­pen soon af­ter. And there­fore WASA has no choice but to ac­tu­al­ly dig up the new­ly paved road to fix that leak.”

The re­port stat­ed that many roads un­der the purview of the Min­istry of Works and Trans­port have reached their de­sign life and are in a fair to poor con­di­tion.

Oth­er rec­om­men­da­tions were al­so aimed to pre­vent in­stances of flood­ing as the com­mit­tee found that the drainage sys­tem for much of the coun­try was in­ad­e­quate. How­ev­er, while the use of a pump sys­tem was sug­gest­ed, this too was al­so found to have lim­i­ta­tions, the re­port stat­ed.

The Min­is­ter of Works and Trans­port, the Min­is­ter of Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment and the Min­is­ter of Pub­lic Util­i­ties have been asked to re­spond to the re­port in 60 days.

It will cost the cash-strapped Wa­ter and Sew­er­age Au­thor­i­ty (WASA) $12.7 bil­li­on to fix some of the ma­jor is­sues af­fect­ing its wa­ter sup­ply and dis­tri­b­u­tion. It’s mon­ey Pub­lic Util­i­ties Min­is­ter Robert Le Hunte says the wa­ter com­pa­ny does not have nor will ac­quire any­time soon.

In the Sun­day Guardian, Pub­lic Util­i­ties Le Hunte gave a break­down of how much WASA will have to fork out if it were to im­prove its over­all de­liv­ery of ser­vice to the pub­lic, which has been his biggest headache since as­sum­ing of­fice.

To re­place 7,200 ki­lo­me­tres of age­ing pipelines, Le Hunte said it will cost WASA a stag­ger­ing $10 bil­li­on.

WASA will al­so have to come up with an­oth­er $1.2 bil­li­on to in­stall wa­ter me­ters at homes, busi­ness­es and in in­dus­tri­al ar­eas, while they would have to find $1 bil­li­on to fix in­ter­con­nec­tiv­i­ty is­sues. An­oth­er $500 mil­li­on is need­ed to im­prove its wa­ter stor­age ca­pac­i­ty.

“That is the kind of mon­ey that we don’t have,” Le Hunte told the Sun­day Guardian in an in­ter­view at his min­istry’s Wood­brook of­fice, as he tried to lev­el with cit­i­zens about the is­sues af­fect­ing WASA’s wa­ter dis­tri­b­u­tion and pro­duc­tion in the harsh dry sea­son.

Reporter: Peter Christopher