News
December 23, 2009
Regional water heads look at management of supplies

There must be an integrated approach to the proper management of water.

Minister of Health Dr Douglas Stater expressed this view as the member states of the Caribbean Basin Water Management Programme wrapped up their 13th annual conference at the Sunset Shores Hotel on December 8.{{more}}

According to Slater, there is need for a proper balance between demand management and economic development.

“With the heavy demand for water, some of the challenges faced are managing water supplies,” Slater said.

“One of the main issues is access to electricity and water,” he continued, noting that water was cheap, but access to it was making it difficult for most persons in today’s society.

According to the health minister, the numbers of people in this country having access to pipe borne water is almost 100 percent, but achieving full coverage was itself another challenge for managers and governments around the region.

Garth Saunders, General Manager of the Central Water and Sewerage Authority spoke of additional challenges facing the distribution of water in the region.

“We are here to continue the important ongoing task of confronting and surmounting the many challenges facing regional water utilities,” Saunders said.

He explained that there needed to be discussion into how the current entities become efficient utilities while providing customers with the best services at an affordable price.

“Collectively, a major challenge is how do we get our governments to invest more in what is considered low profile water supply and environmental projects?”

Among the challenges Saunders singled out was how to better operate, while being water utilities operating in an environment where there is an ever increasing demand for better services, capital improvement and expansion of systems with very limited options of funding sources.

“Even when this financing is obtained, governments are forced to control tariffs in order to ensure that they are just and affordable and closely reflect the cost of providing the service,” he explained.

“This policy invariably places a strain on the debt-servicing capacity of members and presents a challenge for management to consistently look for ways to control costs and to improve efficiency.” (DD)