September 6, 2011
Saunders wants Solid Waste users to pay up

Persons residing in the Grenadines owe the Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA) in excess of $700,000.{{more}}

Chief Executive Officer of the CWSA Garth Saunders said that although Grenadines residents receive a twice-a-week solid waste collection service, only 15 per cent of customers there pay their $5 per month bill. On the mainland, customers are charged $8 per month for a once-a-week collection service.

Saunders said that billing to Grenadines residents commenced in October of 2007 and since then, the CWSA’s Grenadines receivables have steadily climbed to over $700,000.

“It is quite unfair for residents who do not pay $5 per month to enjoy the same level of service as the 15 per cent who actually pay,” Saunders told SEARCHLIGHT.

“At $1.25 per week, it is clearly not an issue of affordability and the CWSA provides the options of monthly, quarterly or annual payments,” Saunders said.

On mainland St. Vincent, residents are billed simultaneously on one bill for water and solid waste; however, in the Grenadines, the CWSA does not yet supply pipe borne water to the residents.

Total annual billing in the Grenadines amounts to $250,000, while it costs the CWSA $1.4 million per year to provide solid waste collection and disposal services. This means that the CWSA has to subsidize Solid Waste Management services in the Grenadines in the sum of $1.15 million annually, the CEO disclosed.

“This high level of subsidy and the non-payment by Grenadines residents is limiting the CWSA/SWMU ‘s ability to finance water supply solutions and improvements in solid waste management on these islands,” he said.

“With the focus on tourism in these islands and the limited land space, landfill expansion is severely limited and there is an urgent need to move towards an integrated more sustainable approach to solid waste management. Separation at source, practicing the 4R’s and reducing what actually goes into the landfill has to become a priority.

“It is clear that the CWSA has to find a way to ensure collection of these fees. In a few territories in the region, including Grenada and Antigua, utility billing is combined. In Grenada, solid waste fees are tied to electricity billing, where households with a monthly consumption of electricity of 100 -150 kilowatt hours per month pay $5 per month and $10.00 per month is charged where consumption of electricity exceeds 150 kilowatt hours per month,” Saunders said.