The Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) must get its house in order. That, in a nutshell, is the lesson to be learned from Tuesday’s High Court ruling.
The authority may well challenge Justice Vasheist Kokaram’s award of $2.2 million in damages to Princes Town homeowners Darwin and Kamalar Sahadath. But the continuation of the legal process to the Court of Appeal would simply escalate the considerable expense already incurred. It would also do little to hide what has already been revealed: WASA’s inefficiency and the consequences of that inefficiency.
The judge found WASA’s failure to repair a leak of one of its lines helped create the conditions that saw the homeowners’ property fall prey to land slippage. It would be reassuring to know this was an isolated case. Sadly, this is not so.
It was only last month that WASA was ordered to pay another Princes Town family who lost their home to a burst water main. The authority was ordered to pay Ayub Hosein, 59, his wife and two sons $1.1 million.
WASA is supposed to provide something essential for life, not engineering conditions to frustrate it. If WASA does not devise an effective way to repair and protect its network, there will be hell to pay.
According to figures recently given by Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte, half of WASA’s daily production is leaked. Even though 95 per cent of the country is connected to a regular water supply, only 38 per cent receive water 24 hours a day, weekly. There are 2,000 leaks.
“We actually produce about 240 million gallons per day,” said Le Hunte. “Given the amount of water we produce we should not have water shortages.”
WASA receives an annual subsidy of about $2 billion and that figure just about covers its 2015 deficit. What is this money being spent on? WASA may well need more funds to better manage its infrastructure, but those funds will simply go the way of its leaking water if the authority does not devise efficient practices to better manage its affairs.
The new trend of WASA litigation is a harbinger of the need for more aggressive leak management. It is also a warning that the supply of water should not be subject to political campaigning and unrealistic objectives.