Pipe-borne drinking water for all by 2025 – Vasudeva Nanayakkara | Sunday Observer

Pipe-borne drinking water for all by 2025 – Vasudeva Nanayakkara

10 January, 2021

The Government aims to provide pipe-born drinking water for all people in the country by 2025, with 75 percent of the water supplied by the National Water Supply and Drainage Board, another percentage by community-based water supply projects and dry zone water supply and sanitation projects and the remainder pumped by the people’s own wells, said Water Supply Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara in an interview with the Sunday Observer.


Q. What is the percentage of drinking water supply coverage in the country and what are the steps to be taken to increase the percentage?

A. ​We have about 50 percent of pipe-borne water coverage. ​They are provided pure drinking water through pipe lines. The remaining 50 percent has to be taken care of in the next four years. Several projects have been planned and will commence this year.

Around 75 percent of the pipe-borne drinking water will be supplied by the National Water Supply and Drainage Board and another percentage will be provided by community based water supply projects and dry zone water supply and sanitation projects. The remainder will be pumped by the people’s own wells. We hope to provide pipe borne drinking water for the entire country by 2025.

Q. How can water wasta be prevented?

A. Mostly drinking water is wasted by the well-to-do people in by watering plants in their gardens, washing vehicles and using drinking water for other washing purposes.

The people with low income do not have money to pay for water and do not waste that much of drinking water. They are concerned about their monthly water bill. They cannot pay the bill when it increases beyond a certain limit.

The well-to-do people do not care about their water bill because it is nothing for them when compared with their income and tend to waste water.

We have to stop this with advocacy methods and by encouraging them to use rain water for other purposes except for drinking.

The Lanka Rain water harvesting Forum is willing to assist this task. It may be profitable for us, the Ministry to provide everything required for rain water harvesting at homes. Rain water should be used to wash vehicles and other washing purposes.

Q. Water consumers have complaints against the water supply system, such as low pressure supply, extra charges, receiving information on water cuts and the actual implementation of the time frames. How can those issues be addressed?

A. The call centre hotline 1939 is not adequate. We want to streamline the response system and bring it up to date with modern digital equipment and technology. It will solve many other complaints of customers. No extra charge is imposed on water. I do not think it is fare to charge the same amount from the rich and the poor for the water they consume.

Low pressure water supply is a result of inadequacy of water. This problem is in the southern part of the Gampaha district.

The issue will be resolved with the implementation of the Kelaniya right bank water supply scheme. We will have other water supply schemes in other areas. The issue of low pressure water supply will be over within next year or two. We are also replacing old pipe lines with new pipe lines. This will stop leakages. When the leakages stop, the pressure builds up.

Q. What can be done to simplify the process of submitting documents to obtain new water connections and cut down the delay of getting new connections? For an example, the land should be under the name of the person who makes the request and otherwise a whole lot of documents need to be submitted by the person who makes the request?

A. I agree. We will look into the issue and make it simple. We should allow customers to request a new water connection online and pay online. Whoever occupying the house must have the right to water. Whoever occupies the land should have the right to get a new water connection no matter whether he owns the land or not. Supplying water is our primary purpose. We cannot provide a new water connection only if there is a legal dispute. This matter should be overcome through an interim order from courts or using any other method.

Q. Repairing damaged pipelines in the Colombo city and the suburbs takes a long time and sometimes, people enjoy watching the `instant fountains’ appear after damaging a pipeline. What can be done about this?

A. There are no frequent repairs. What they do is replacing old pipe lines with new pipe lines. This is a continuing program. This is why sometimes, people see ‘instant fountains’ in Colombo and greater Colombo. This will reduce the percentage of non revenue water by 20 percent once all old pipe lines are replaced with new ones. We have about 40 percent of non revenue water. We have to take stringent measures against those who steal water.

Q. Residents of the Kalutara district get brackish water during March and May every year. How can the Government resolve this long standing issue?

A. Pipe-borne drinking water consumers in the Kalutara district will never get brackish water after next January (2022).

We are carrying out an emergency project in Kalutara to resolve the issue. The issue will be solved ending the suffering of pipe-born water consumers.

Q. Do you have any message for drinking water consumers in the country?

A. My main message for the public is `Please re-use water’. You can re-use water. The same water used for one purpose can be used for another purpose.

This has been practised in small households with low income, especially in the kitchen. Housewives use water to rinse food, such as dhal and rice and use the same water to water plants. We can purify rain water and re-use. Condominiums and large households can do this. Purification is a small job. Water can be purified and re-used for other purposes except for drinking.