The downturn in the economy, as well as cutbacks to government ministries, has led to the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) exploring the possible business opportunity of selling bottled water.
Yesterday, Minister of Public Utilities Robert Le Hunte confirmed his ministry was considering that as a possible investment and business opportunity in the near future.
He said, “The WASA management continues to explore opportunities where they could obtain revenue and, by extension, reduce subvention given by the State.
“The genesis of this process to bottle WASA water is possibly coming out of those discussions, and I am encouraging the utility to explore all possible options. However, we are very far from making any definitive decision in this regard.
“We are also cognisant as we explore these options that we are mindful of the value added to the citizens of TT and the financial viability of the project and the crowding-out effect it could potentially have on private-sector investment.”
He encouraged other ministries to explore business opportunities to encourage revenue flows and the creation of employment, adding that it would bring value to the country.
There are four reservoirs in the country: Navet Dam, Caroni-Arena Dam, the Hollis Reservoir and Hillsborough Reservoir in Tobago .
Sources said yesterday, the project could come on stream next year once the green light was given by Government. This may require setting up a plant to bottle the water and package it for sale.
The quality of water in this country has already been described as being good and sources said yesterday it was an excellent opportunity for WASA to earn some income and return to a good financial footing. But yesterday, Dr Abe Alexander, CEO of Water One at Frederick Settlement, Caroni, the producers of Oasis bottled water, said ten years ago he heard WASA was contemplating bottling water, but that never materialised.
He said, “That is not going to help WASA, WASA provides good potable water, and if they say they are going to supply bottled water, it means that the water coming through the pipe is no good. Sure, they can do it, but I do not see that happening.
“I think people will ask what we are being supplied with and they will ask if what is coming in through their pipes is of good quality. They will also question their bottled water on the market, if it comes on stream, unless they do it through a private company that does the work for them. That is a better idea.”
Dominic Hadeed of Blue Waters could not be reached for comment.