Pay­ing wa­ter bill right thing to do

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Zinwa/Stocks -

FOR years, mak­ing wa­ter users pay for the ser­vice they re­ceive from wa­ter util­i­ties such as Zinwa or ur­ban lo­cal au­thor­i­ties has been a daunt­ing task.

Many wa­ter users do not be­lieve in the need to pay for the re­source de­spite the crit­i­cal role wa­ter plays in the lives of ev­ery per­son or busi­ness en­tity.

Re­sul­tantly wa­ter util­i­ties find them­selves ham­strung fi­nan­cially as hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars of their rev­enue is trapped in un­paid wa­ter bills.

This has, no doubt, im­pacted neg­a­tively on their abil­ity to de­liver qual­ity, re­li­able and un­hin­dered ser­vice to clients.

In the case of Zinwa, the Author­ity is bat­tling to re­cover mil­lions from ir­ri­ga­tors, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, in­di­vid­ual con­sumers, schools and agri­cul­tural es­tates who have not been hon­our­ing their bills.

It is there­fore im­per­a­tive to try and un­pack the rea­son why peo­ple should pay for wa­ter reg­u­larly.

Firstly, it must be known by wa­ter users across the board that there is a sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship be­tween pay­ing for wa­ter and the ser­vice clients get at the end of the day as the money raised from wa­ter bills is rein­vested into the sys­tem.

Wa­ter users should also un­der­stand that wa­ter comes out of their taps at a very huge cost.

It takes a vast and in­tri­cate in­fras­truc­tural net­work for wa­ter to reach the client and the con­struc­tion, ex­pan­sion and main­te­nance of the same net­work re­quires fi­nan­cial re­sources for it to op­er­ate ef­fi­ciently and op­ti­mally.

For ex­am­ple, when the wa­ter falls as rain, it get im­pounded in dams and other reser­voirs such as weirs where it is later drawn for treat­ment or other pur­poses.

It takes money to con­struct these wa­ter works and to keep them in­tact af­ter con­struc­tion.

While in Zim­babwe the Gov­ern­ment has in­vested bil­lions of dol­lars in dam con­struc­tion, the main­te­nance of the dams can only be done through rev­enue re­cov­ered from those ben­e­fit­ing from the wa­ter bod­ies such as lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, ir­ri­ga­tors and other users. With­out these ben­e­fi­cia­ries pay­ing for wa­ter, the in­fra­struc­ture will go to waste.

The wa­ter treat­ment plants which are used to pu­rify wa­ter also need to be con­structed and con­tin­u­ously up­graded for them to de­liver the best qual­ity of wa­ter. This re­quires money and such money can only be raised through wa­ter bills.

In ad­di­tion, the treat­ment pro­cesses re­quire vast amounts of chem­i­cals some of which are im­ported. Any wa­ter util­ity needs to keep ad­e­quate stocks of wa­ter treat­ment chem­i­cals so that ser­vice is sus­tained. When wa­ter users fail pay their bills, the sus­tain­abil­ity of ser­vice can­not be guar­an­teed.

It is for this rea­son that Zinwa has al­ways re­it­er­ated that there ex­ists a nexus be­tween pay­ment for wa­ter and the ser­vice clients get. Where users do not pay for wa­ter, ser­vice can­not be guar­an­teed as there will be no re­sources to keep the sys­tem up and run­ning.

An in­tri­cate net­work of pipes run­ning into thou­sands of kilo­me­tres con­veys wa­ter from the source to the doorsteps. This net­work re­quires money to set up and main­tain.

Over time, the pipes need to be re­placed as their life­span runs out and this can only hap­pen when there are enough re­sources gen­er­ated from pay­ments for wa­ter. When there are no pay­ments, these pipes will fre­quently burst lead­ing to ser­vice in­ter­rup­tions and un­nec­es­sary loss of treated wa­ter through leak­ages.

Both the treat­ment and con­veyance sys­tems also re­quire en­ergy for the wa­ter to reach the tap. About 70 per­cent of any wa­ter util­ity’s en­ergy costs is di­rectly re­lated to the pump­ing and treat­ment of wa­ter hence the need for clients to pay and sus­tain the sys­tems.

It is there­fore against this back­ground that wa­ter users should al­ways hon­our their wa­ter bills. This is the only way ser­vice can be guar­an­teed.

For more in­for­ma­tion you can con­tact the Zim­babwe Na­tional Wa­ter Author­ity Cor­po­rate Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Mar­ket­ing Depart­ment on pr@zinwa., call­cen­ or visit the You can also fol­low us on Twit­ter @ zin­wawa­ter.

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