GWI targets communities to save water
Kaieteur News
July 2, 2004

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The Guyana Water Incorporated has teamed up with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) to launch an initiative aimed at promoting water conservation and reducing water losses.

The project, dubbed ‘Water Wise Programme’ aims at educating the public and creating greater awareness of water and its many values.

At the launching ceremony, yesterday, GWI Public Relations Officer, Audreyanna Thomas, noted that the attitude of the public towards water consumption is not what it needs to be.

Such behaviour patterns are influenced by the fact that Guyana has large supplies of fresh water and water is perceived to be a free and unlimited commodity, she said.

She said it is hoped that the new programme would help Guyanese understand that water is a valuable resource and as such it should be used wisely.

“The partnership with PAHO also recognises the health benefits water has and how we as water users must look after our health by being more water wise.”

Thomas said that her company is currently faced with a reality that 60 per cent of the water produced for drinking purposes is unaccounted for.

She noted that while systems’ losses are partly to blame, customer wastage is extremely high. She added that this is reflected in customer consumption of 200-700 litres per person, instead of 100-180 litres per person.

“Thus this water-wise community programme is a part of GWI’s conservation plan and more specifically, the education /awareness programme. The focus is to reduce water losses by recognising and encouraging management of this resource at the community level.”

As part of the Water Wise programme, certificates will be presented to various communities that exhibit positive attitudes towards water usage.

Thomas explained that GWI has means of accessing the extent of water usage in a community and can see the communities that use a sensible level of water.”

“By rewarding the communities that have exhibited water conservation, it is hoped that it will motivate others to recognise that they can make a big difference with some simple changes to their daily routine.”

Managing Director of GWI, Andrew Barber, noted that no company could afford to lose 60 per cent of its product.

“Just imagine if every day 60 per cent of the beverages fell off a Banks DIH truck, where would that company be?”

He said that with the present rate of water loss, the company loses between $750 million and $950 million annually.

He stressed that the biggest cost of water loss is to the consumer since it translates to decreased water pressure.

He explained that the term ‘unaccounted for’ water refers to more than leakages in pipes or taps left running,

“It also includes those customers who make illegal connections to GWI’s water supply, those who disconnect the water meters placed on their property so we cannot measure the supply of water to them, and those inconsiderate customers who use water extravagantly.”

Barber said that GWI aims at providing 85 per cent of customers in Guyana with meters by 2007.

Minister of Housing and Water, Shaik Baksh urged the water utility company to improve its community efforts.

He noted that on his recent visit to Region Two, the members of the various communities expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of service provided.

“Maybe you need to train more people in customer relations, but you have to focus more on the needs of the various communities. The residents are interested in seeing the quality of water improved and want to help work out a communication system with them and form community support groups.”

The Minister noted that the company takes too long to execute remedial works on problems with treatment plants. This too causes residents to be without water for extended periods.

He told them that improved water supply and quality would lead customers to make prompt payments.

“There is a resistance now because of the perception or sometimes true concerns with inadequate service.

People will be willing to pay when they get quality service. So go out into the regions and get community participation,” said the Minister.

A number of communities also received certificates yesterday for their conservation of water. Among them were South and North Ruimveldt; Republic Park; Eccles, East Bank Demerara; Better Hope and Industry, East Coast Demerara.