Reducing water consumption can lower waste treatment costs, prevent pollution: Expert

Sally Piri

BRUNEI TIMES | October 12, 2013

Brunei Darussalam must look to significantly reduce its staggering per capita 450-litredaily consumption of potable water in stages over the next decade, a visiting professor from Singapore told the media yesterday.

He pointed out that Bruneians’ daily water usage, equivalent to 300 1.5-litre bottles of water, is one of the highest in the world and about twice that of their those in neighbouring countries, where the average is between 200 to 250 litres per day.

Professor Asit K. Biswas, an expert on water and environmental management from the Lee Kuan Yew School for Public Policy in Singapore, told the local media the Sultanate should look to reduce its daily average water consumption per person in stages over 10 years.

“I think steadily you have to bring it down to at least 200 litres of daily water usage per person,” he said.

“Within the next five years, we reduce the daily average water usage to 300 litres (per person) and will reduce it further in the remaining five years,” said Biswas, who is also the founder of the Third World Centre for Water Management in Mexico.

Biswas said reducing consumption would significantly lower the cost of waste water treatment and reduce environmental water pollution.

He said that to encourage families to use less water the price had to be raised to something like 3 per cent of the household’s income.

“We take a look at the houses, if they are poor, then they will get a direct subsidy… But don’t give a subsidy to everybody,” he said.

He also said the public, especially the youth, should be educated about the need to conserve water.

“We have to treat and manage water resources with respect,” he said, adding that it was imperative to cut water consumption.

Biswas said it was the responsibility of every country to ensure it properly managed its water resources and protected the ecosystems of its rivers and lakes.

To reduce water consumption in the Sultanate, a number of initiatives have been proposed, such as the Water Conservation Pledge programme and the Brunei-Singapore Cooperation on Environment programme.

Biswas is in the Sultanate to discuss with senior government officials how the country should better manage its water resources.