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WASA water draining treasury - Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

THE EDITOR: Every day in the news there are complaints across the land from one end to another of dry taps in homes. Some residents have been waiting to receive water for weeks, some for months and even years, and many have never had the luxury of pipe-borne water, despite repeated promises that bore no fruit.

But to hear Minister of Public Utilities Marvin Gonzales tell it, WASA is doing an outstanding job of providing water, and he is incredibly proud of that accomplishment since, he bragged, despite being in the midst of the dry season, he has not yet imposed a water emergency on the public.

He failed to mention that every day is a water emergency for thousands of households. Furthermore, three months ago, we were coming off one of the most waterlogged wet seasons, with full reservoirs. What happened to all that water? Did it go down the drain instead of into pipelines in parched communities?

On top of that water wastage, Desalcott - the company that is paid millions to make seawater potable - continuously has problems keeping the plant fully functional; currently, algae have significantly reduced output.

Shouldn't the experts at Desalcott, paid handsomely for their expertise, have known that water in a sun-drenched hot tropical environment would produce algae and have taken the appropriate steps to eliminate it before it impacted clients?

Moreover, desalination also has environmental drawbacks - refining saltwater produces toxins harmful to land, wildlife and fish. 'Under the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities, UN Environment is working to prevent degradation from land-based activities, such as the operation of desalination plants.'

Now another government agency, RIC, is holding what could only be described as sham public consultations even though the authorities have already disclosed that a significant price increase is imminent. Moreover, to justify the proposed rate hike, Gonzales claimed that we have the lowest tap water rates in the world. However, an online search exposes that as mere political nonsense to fool the masses. We are not even in the running since, globally, Saudi Arabia has the lowest rate at US$0.04 per cubic metre with TT at US$0.18.

To make an already desperate financial situation worse for hundreds of thousands of people, a study in 2008 (ric.org.tt) states, 'WASA plans to undertake a $6.7 billion capital investment programme over the next five years to meet its long-term objectives of providing a 24/7 water supply to 98 per cent of its customers by 2020.' More broken promises.

WASA intends to finance this ambitious capital investment programme through a new water tariff structure. Unfortunately, the plan means that every customer, even the ones with dry taps, will see their bills skyrocket by over 100 per cent. It has been 15 years since that study, and nothing has changed.

Throughout our 60 years of independence, no political party has been able to fix the water sustainability fiasco despite the b

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