With water supply unreliable, a number of businesses in the city’s core area have resorted to fetching water on their own.

If paying for fetching water is equivalent to buying, water is becoming expensive in the capital city. A proprietor of a milk booth recently spent Nu 20,000 a month on water. His business is water intensive. With cleanliness at the core of the business, the proprietor said he couldn’t compromise on water. He fetches or asks the dealer to fetch his from Hongtsho.

“We have to use clean water to clean all the machines and the floor every day,” said proprietor Kinley Penjor. For 1,000 litres of water, he pays Nu 1,000. The proprietor ended up fetching water for 20 straight days earlier this year. The supply in his area, Hongkong market, has improved a bit these days.

“Even if I have to spend the profit on buying water for a few months in summer, I have to, as I cannot compromise,” he says.

Below the milk booth, the Seasons Pizzeria is another client. Above it is the Khamsum Inn, a three star hotel. There are smaller businesses that use their cars or hire bigger cars to fetch water. And it is expensive.

The monthly water bill for Khamsum Inn averages between Nu 2,000 and 3,500. But the hotel, with 17 rooms, pays Nu 4,500 for 4,000 litres of water. “When there is full occupancy, the thromde water is not enough,” says a staff who readily flipped through the files to show their water bill. The hotel has tanks that can hold 18,000 litres, but half the time it is empty or half-filled.

Last month, the hotel bought water for three straight days. The damage was Nu 12,000. The latest purchase was on June 12. “Since then the supply has improved,” says the staff. “There are many hotels like ours who buy water.” Some hotels use their men and machines to fetch water- from Jungshina and Babesa.

Water suppliers, as the clients call them, say there are several of them who fetch water “based on as and when demand”.  One supplier, Thinley, says some had been in the business for about eight months. Thinley had supplied to Namgay Heritage, Om Tara and Bhutan Boutique hotels, all luxury hotels. 

Thinley charges Nu 3,000 for pumping, carrying and labour charges from Jungshina to the town. “I have heard managers complain of the cost of water eating into their profit. It happens when they have a lot of guests,” he says. “Some hotels have identified truckers and done this for the last two years.”

The thromde’s rationing of water supply for a few hours in the morning and evening is not enough, says a hotelier. “It is a problem especially when it is tourist season,” says one. “There is no point complaining. Its the same old story- there is no water at the source.”

The capital city is plagued with shortage of water, although they are not buying like the businesses. The growing population and expanding city is attributed to the shortage or erratic supply, but there are also those who feel there is problem in the distribution system.

“Why are some having excess and some shortage,” asks a resident. “Somewhere something must be going wrong in the distribution system.”

A construction owner in Chang Jalu is confident that the water that is being tapped should be enough for all if it is properly distributed. “Why do some have private source together with thromde supply?” 

Ugyen Penjor