Water consumers in Grenada might soon have to pay more for usage of the commodity.
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the state-owned National Water and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA), Terry Forrester who hinted at the possibility of a price hike contended that a price increase might become necessary in order for the utility to undertake the development of infrastructural work.
During a special television programme in observance of NAWASA’s Silver Anniversary, Forrester said the board is exploring the possibility of increasing rates to meet the increasing investment portfolio.
He stated that the need for an increase in water rate is “extremely valid” due to the current increase in the number of projects taking place on the island which warrants NAWASA to increase its capital investments in order to provide additional services.
“The time is coming when an increase is necessary in order to meet this strategic plan which… our Board (of Directors) has approved recently,” he said.
“A small increase, even if it’s two cents, can make a serious financial impact when you consider the fact that you’re serving the entire country,” he added.
NAWASA last increased its rates in 2010.
Forrester spent some time explaining the justification of another price increase by the company five years later.
He stressed that NAWASA needs to invest in capital projects which he said is a costly exercise.
According to Forrester, the continuous demand on NAWASA to provide
and supply more water requires capital investments in dams, additional storage, and pipes.
“These are major cost factors and if you’re called upon to provide a continuous good quality service, good quality product, it means you have to step up your game and invest in what is required to so operate,” he said.
“Even just five cents gives NAWAS $40,000, it means that in one year’s time that’s $480,000. That can certainly go a far way in repairing, replacing some of your old worn out infrastructure,” he remarked.
Forrester announced that there is still a fairly large portfolio of outstanding debts that are due to NAWASA.
“If we were able to collect all of our debts, it (NAWASA) would be an extremely profitable organisation,” he said.
It is estimated that NAWASA has a base of eighty thousand customers.
General Manager of NAWASA, Christopher Husbands outlined the projects that are in the pipeline, saying that there is a lot of investment structure to be done.
He said the state-run utility with the support of government is trying to obtain grant funding for the projects to the tune of $150M.
He noted that if they do not get the grants, they will have to dip into some of NAWASA’s financial resources to provide counterpart financing in order to obtain concessionary financing from funding agencies.
“While we have been generating a profit, we have not been investing in the infrastructure in the way we should have,” he said.
Husbands disclosed that NAWASA was now witnessing a serious improvement in compliance of bill payment by consumers.
He said the utility can now boast of a 60 to 70 percent success rate in monthly bill payments within the first 30 days of it being due.
The NAWASA General Manager pointed out that consumers are given 60 days to pay their bill before disconnection of service is considered.
He disclosed that the utility company has been having “some good years” and has been profitable in recent years.
Husbands is encouraging householders to invest in rain water harvesting.
During the dry season some areas of the country are normally badly affected by the shortage of regular water supply from the utility company.
Husbands believes that householders should look at having a certain supply of water that can help ease the frustration during the dry season.
He also addressed the need for water conservation adding that the utility company resists having to invoke the Act governing NAWASA which speaks to wastage.
Section 9 of the National Water and Sewerage Authority Water Services Regulations of 1993 speaks of restrictions as to the use of water in case of shortage.
Under the regulations, irrigation or watering of lawns and ground, washing of roadways, pavements, parks, garages and out-rooms are prohibited during the dry season.
The use of hoses in washing vehicles and watering of gardens is also restricted, and these can result in penalties of a fine and imprisonment for those who are caught breaking the law.
Husbands reminded the host of the programme that in 2010 when the country faced a serious water shortage the Act was invoked with the assistance of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF).