With a good measure of rainfall this monsoon; there were no issues of water shortage, even if it was muddy, for a while in the capital city. Soon the monsoon will retreat, our catchment areas will be drier and residents will start complaining.
Meanwhile the capital city is expanding. One additional building completed means more demand for water. And we see new buildings springing up almost every month. The Thimphu thromde has ensured that there is ample drinking water for the residents in the extended areas. In fact, there is no issue of water shortage in those areas.
However, at the rate water is used or misused, soon these areas will also become areas where water shortages occur. In terms of town planning, the thromde had planned and supplied enough water, more than enough as of now judging by how it is wasted.
When there is water, tanks on rooftops or on the sides of the buildings can be seen overflowing, some for days unless there is a problem at the source. This is common in Babesa, Olakha and nearby areas, which recently received a treated water supply. The treatment plant at Megaypang targets to make water enough for a settlement of 60,000 people, but at the rate water is being wasted, this will only be enough for half the target.
The irony is that while some parts of the city face acute shortage of water, some appears to have excess. This could be because water is free. The thromde has plans to install water metres and charge tenants. This is a good idea as the cash strapped thromde could recover some portion for maintenance. There are residents who pay hefty sums and receive only few hours of water in a day.
Going by how water is wasted, the thromde should make it a priority to quickly install water metres and start charging. This will not only curb wastage, but also earn some revenue. The thromde had set aside 50 percent of its budget to ensure that the capital’s residents have reliable and safe drinking water. Millions have already been invested.
It is a common Bhutanese trait to waste what is distributed free of cost whether it is condoms or water. At a time when water is becoming scarce across the country, charging for water will instil a sense of responsibility and ownership in the people. Besides, when people pay for services, they will also have the right to question authorities when services are not up to expectations. This will ensure reliable services.