Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Water pollution responsible for high water tariffs - AVRL

Mr. Daniel Muomaalah, General Manager, Customer Care of Aqua Vitens Rand Limited (AVRL), on Tuesday said high water tariffs in the country was largely due to the high cost of water treatment as a result of high level of pollution in the country's water bodies.He said the citizens who complained about high water tariffs were the very ones who polluted the water bodies and therefore are to blame for the high water tariffs.Mr. Muomaalah said this at the opening of a four-day two-in-one workshop designed to fashion out a syllabus for water as a subject area for basic schools and also to train trainers who would implement the syllabus when it is ready.The workshop, jointly organized by AVRL and Wise Water Foundation with support from the ministries of Education and Water Resources, Works and Housing, is being attended by about 40 participants. Mr. Muomaalah said the workshop was one of the many ways in which AVRL sought to shift water from an engineering-based to a community-focused issue as a way of bringing citizens closer to the operations of AVRL to fully appreciate the challenges of water treatment and distribution."Not until the majority of Ghanaians begin to appreciate what these challenges are, it remains a mirage to provide any lasting solution to the challenges facing the water sector," he said.He said the ultimate focus of the workshop was children, in order that they would become water ambassadors to their communities and also grow up with a better sense of appreciation for the value and importance of water and water-based sanitation and environmental issues.Mr. Andrew Barber, Managing Director of AVRL, said the company spent an estimated GHC100 million Ghana cedis every year for its operations, which largely involved the use of chemicals and power for water treatment and distribution. "In spite of the huge operational cost, demand still far outstrips supply and we will need over GHC1.5 billion capital investment to meet the country's demand for potable water," he said. Mr Barber said the high cost of water treatment was also the problem of huge non-revenue water (about 48 per cent), due to illegal connections, adding that education and awareness creation is key to dealing with that kind of problem.Mr. Barber said ahead of a comprehensive school syllabus on water, AVRL had a programme dubbed "one day education on water", under which 4,200 children from 20 schools in Accra had been educated on the importance and value of water. "We are expanding that programme to benefit schools outside Accra and we intend to educate at least 30,000 school kids by the close of 2011 when our contract ends," he said. He said the rationale for the programme was to make children water and sanitation ambassadors to challenge their parents and neighbours to take responsibility for the water they use and the way they treat water bodies.Mr. Emmanuel Opare, Deputy Director, Basic Education, GES, noted that whereas human population was rising, sources of potable water kept dwindling, adding that the judicious management of water and the environment should be a priority to all.He said it was in that light that the GES welcomed the idea of creating a syllabus for water as a subject area in schools, saying, water and environmental education were matters of human survival rather than just a course of study.Mr. Opare urged participants to develop water and environmental education programmes that would integrate different dimensions of curriculum work in a way that would make the knowledge and skills acquired responsive to practical challenges.Mr. Mintah Aboagye, Head of the Water Directorate of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing noted that water was the commonest conveyer of diseases and therefore issues about pollution of water resources, domestic water storage, illegal connections and wrong laying of underground pipes should be taken seriously. He said government was committed to making water supply affordable to citizens but to the extent that citizens were engaged in water-unfriendly activities, the cost of treating and supplying potable water would remain high.

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