Good to Know

Desalination, water pressure, leaks and distribution pipes:

The cost of desalination is determined, to a large extent, by the cost of electricity. As long as the bulk of the electricity is produced by burning hydrocarbons, the cost of power will be very high. The solution is to generate at least 80 percent of electricity using windmills and solar panels (some fossil fuel-based generation capacity is needed to ensure balancing and compensate for changes in the availability of renewable energy).

Elevated water storage is needed to ensure constant pressure in the distribution system, otherwise pathogens will seep into the pipes. WEB has solved this problem long ago, so the quality of water supply is high. However, frequent breaks in old distribution pipes lead to large losses of water, and the associated shut down of water mains creates a danger of contamination. The problem needs to be tackled urgently by replacing corroded pipes — WEB has recently started addressing this issue along LG Smith boulevard.

A modern monitoring and control system can minimize water losses due to pipe breaks. It regularly takes 2-3 hours before a water main break is stopped by closing valves. WEB should be able to monitor continuously where all its water flows. Furthermore, occasional leakage within the consumers’ part of the system is not always discovered in a timely manner. Water supply systems in countries with much lower costs of water still find it economic to install sensors for each connected household that automatically (via internet) alerts consumers when there is leakage in their pipes. WEB should install such a system, too.

WEB applies an increasing block tariff for households, and flat rates for agriculture, industry and commercial establishments. Overall, this makes sense. The challenge is to set the size of the blocks and the rate for each block in a way that balances social and economic objectives. A rapidly increasing block tariff may disadvantage low income households with many family members, or with a garden to grow vegetables, or raising chickens and other animals. With the high cost of imported food, small scale domestic agriculture should be supported not punished by high water tariffs. WEB should commission a survey to ensure that the size of the blocks does not undermine economic diversification and at the same time serves social objectives well. The results of the survey should be made public.

Thank you reader for the education.

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August 06, 2022
Rona Coster