Published today (19.3.2008) in The Star. It borrows heavily from an earlier letter I submitted on the need for a National Water Policy (2007).
LETTER TO THE EDITOR:
REDUCED WATER CHARGES WILL NOT HELP CONSERVATION EFFORTS
Although I am deeply moved by our new Selangor MB’s concern for the welfare of the people, I must express my doubts over his proposal to waive the charges for the first 20 cubic metres of water used by households in Selangor (‘Selangor folks welcome reduced water charges’, The Star, 18 March 2008).
I can appreciate that this move is an attempt to rectify the imbalance caused by the artificial inflation of water prices due to subsidies paid to water distribution concessionaires by the previous state government.
However, I am concerned that the offer of free water will not further the cause of water conservation. I would recommend that the savings made by the state government from terminating the subsidies paid to water distribution concessionaires be channelled instead into improving and upgrading substandard and obsolete water storage, treatment and supply infrastructure. The state government should also look into issues such as water theft by squatters and make plans to replace asbestos water pipes with safer materials.
Alternatively, the reduced water charges should only be offered to those who fall within the lower income category. As it is, many of those in the higher income group are wasteful of water and take water for granted despite the high current charges.
I trust that the new Selangor state government will lend its support to environmental non-governmental organisations in our efforts to educate consumers and commercial bodies about water conservation. I also trust that our MB would be willing to consider adopting water-saving technologies, implementing an intelligent maintenance culture, preserving our wetlands and watershed areas and practicing better management of our water resources, all of which will help Selangor reach its developmental goals without sacrificing the environment or the rakyat’s welfare.
WONG EE LYNN
PETALING JAYA, SELANGOR