lundi 7 janvier 2008

On Water Saving Measures and Rising Water Bills in Seychelles

The Nation of 7-1-08 had this article about the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC) stepping up its advice to consumers on realistic and simple methods by which they can conserve water and electricity and therefore save on their bills. This, the article stated, in the wake of the recent revision on water and electricity tariffs forced onto PUC by increased operation costs driven up by the ever rising cost of petroleum on the world market.

The PUC advice, the article states, will hopefully to be available to the public by the end of the week in new leaflets being printed. And to whet our appetites, the Nation doled out a few ‘simple water saving tips’ which included the classic replacement / repairs of leaking taps, toilet flushing systems, etc.

In these days of global concern over renewable natural ressources, everyone is quite obliged to rethink everyday practices that would contribute towards a more sensible use of these scarce resources. It is commendable of the PUC to go that little extra distance in seeking to help its clients reduce water wastage. However, for those of us who really want to do our bit to save on water (the planet will follow in quick order) we would do better to just ignore the PUC and keep on with what common sense dictates.

Indeed, how seriously can one take a public utility agency which suggests that a faulty toilet flushing system can waste water up to 9L/min adding up to 32Kl/month? Or a running tap during teeth-brushing can waste water at 11L/min and goes no further than that?

Firstly, the math is all wrong! On the basis of the faulty toilet flushing system and the bathroom tap running unchecked, 9L/min equals to 540L/hr, equals 12.96Kl/day, equals 90.72Kl/week; equals 362.88Kl/month!

11L/min equals 660L/Hr, equals 15.84Kl/day, equals 110.88Kl/week, equals 443.52Kl/month!

Secondly, it smacks of poor advice on water saving measures to suggest repairs of installations that are fundamentally the way opposite.

A household tap gushing out at 11L/minute is an acknowledgement that the concept for internal domestic plumbing is flawed. Water flow rate for water cisterns, internal taps and showerheads need not deliver more than 6L/min at full flow without compromising on efficiency

If that toilet flush drains at 9L/min, it is faulty in concept, gurgling out water at near double what a toilet flushing should do. It needs to be replaced. Modern dual flush runs at average 3-6L/flush.!

And while we are at it, let’s have reducers and flow restrictors on those other interior water outlets where pressure can be enhanced without increasing the volume of water flow. Sounds simple and practical?

The way I see it, the trouble with the PUC seems to lie in trying to place the blame for the new unsavoury monthly utility bill on customers. They are careless and wasteful, right?

Or on that nasty world market thingy, with its “ever rising cost of petroleum”(however true). As for ol’ PUC, it had little other option than to hike up its rates on water and electricity tariffs ( it was forced to do , right?, Somebody, maybe Government, was bending and twisting its arm to do so in order to meet increased operation costs, right?)

It was certainly commercial sense to hike up the utility rates. Which means that at some stage, what clinched the decision, was more the concern on how to balance the books rather than the plight of the already heavily overburdened Seychellois household.

This is all the more galling in the land of free health, free education, heavily subsidised housing and other generous social welfare programs. We all need water to drink, wash, clean at more or less the same rate, irregardless of social or economic status. The PUC has only made it harder for those of the lower income group. That’s the other reality besides increasing international prices.

The PUC would not really be blamed for having decided the way it did, if only it could now be brave enough and admit it rather than try to suggest that it’s all the fault of the international market.

Now that the rates have been increased, it should try not to add insult to injury by taking the customers for morons in suggesting ludicrous water wastage figures that, if avoided, would “make a world of difference on (our) electricity and water bill at the end of each month “

We may not be able to do without the PUC. We certainly can do without its advice!