Single water utility closer
Stabroek News
May 19, 2002

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A bill to regulate the ownership, management, control, protection and conservation of local water resources along with the provision of sewage and advisory services will soon receive the presidential assent after having been successfully piloted through parliament.

The act to be cited as the Water and Sewerage Act 2002 will see the establishment of a National Water Council (NWC) to ensure that the guiding principles of the act are carefully followed.

The NWC, as the custodian of the National Water Policy with powers for its development and implementation will act as an advisory forum on areas associated with the arranging of development plans and management of the sector.

The soon to be formed single water utility, Guyana Water Inc, which will be a public company, will, under the act be vested with all the assets and liabilities of the Guyana Water Authority (GUYWA) and the Georgetown Sewerage and Water Commissioners (GS&WC). The minister is licensed under the act to grant to the new company all facilities owned by government or any local authority. GUYWA and GS&WC shall cease to be and most of their employees and operations shall be taken over by the new company.

As part of the act also there will be provision for the boosting of the monitoring systems of the Hydrometeo-rological Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, which will function along with the regulatory mechanisms of the Environmental Protection Agency to overlook the function of the principles set out.

Provision has also been made for the introduction of a new licensing regime to be administered by the Hydromet Department. Under this provision only citizens will be granted licenses and these, once issued, will not exceed a term of 25 years. Further conditions will be attached to the use of the license along with the department having the power to ratify contravention of its terms along with suspension or cancellation of its use.

Issues associated with the distribution system, its cost and disconnection terms were also addressed in the legislation along with penalties for violations of regulations under the act.

Power is also provided under the act for the minister to compulsorily acquire land for and on behalf of the public supplier as and when necessary.

The minister is also empowered to make regulations as may be necessary for the purpose of giving effect to provisions of the act.