Holistic approach required to tackle WASA issues

Public Utilities Minister Senator Robert Le Hunte says a holistic multi-pronged approach is required to successfully tackle the problems facing the Water and Sewerage Authority, WASA.

Speaking at a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Utility held recently at the Ministry’s Head Office in St. Clair, the Minister identified a number of areas of WASA that need critical attention. These, he said, include but are not limited to:  increased water production and storage; rectifying the transmission issues by repairing aged infrastructure in order to reduce the levels of non-revenue water; the collection of outstanding receivables; and metering and water conservation awareness.

Minister Le Hunte laments, that as a country Trinidad and Tobago is not in a water deficit position, but a significant portion of the water produced is lost through leaks caused by aging infrastructure and illegal connections.

The Minister noted that fixing the aging infrastructure will require significant investment and hinted it may even mean having some level of private sector involvement.

He urged the board to explore all avenues to increase production and to adopt a more aggressive approach aimed at reducing the number of leaks in WASA’s distribution system.

The Minister discussed with the members of the Board a short term plan, which if properly executed could reduce the demand /supply imbalance over a two- year period. This plan he says will require an investment of approximately 2.4 million dollars.

Some short term initiatives were discussed during the meeting aimed at improving this percentage over the next two years.

Minister Le Hunte was also cited some other areas of improvement that the board needs to address immediately. One of these is the utility’s communication with its customers which he described as unsatisfactory and totally unacceptable.

He told the board of directors that fixing the problems at WASA is more about will, desire and attitude than financial constraints. He therefore urged the Commission to set standards of customer satisfaction and to monitor and ensure that these standards are maintained.

The other area the Minister cited as needing improvement was the percentage of persons who receive water on a 24/ 7 basis. He said the current level of around 30 per cent of the customers who receive a 24/ 7 supply was unacceptable.

He lamented that the truck borne service meant as a relief mechanism was now becoming entrenched as a part of the utility’s supply chain and that situation needed to change.

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