Despite the good rains that the country received recently, Batswana are facing a rise in water tariffs. Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) Chief Executive Officer Mmetla Masire said the tariffs that should have been increased last year will definitely go up this year. He said the move is meant to upping recover operational costs of the corporation. He said currently WUC use around P1.5 billion a year while the revenues are just around P1 billion. When address the media on Tuesday Masire however said the tariff will not affect the users that much because they have also scrapped out the standing charges. Previously WUC had a standard amount where people were charged whether they used water or not. Masire explained that having good rains this year should not confuse Batswana into thinking that the challenges the corporation have been faced with are gone. WUC in the past have been hit by shortage of water where many villages and towns had shortage of water. “People expect that as the dams are now full everything is fine. This is not the case because we still have challenges of supplying water to some areas,” said Masire. He highlighted that as most dams in Botswana are at full capacity, the situation does not look bad but challenges are still there. Currently the corporation is only able to produce 91% of the water that is required countrywide. He pointed out that the challenge they have is that surface water accounts to only 40% of the water consumed in Botswana while remaining 60% is sourced from underground.
“The problem we now have is that the prolonged dry season had a major impact on underground water sources. Some wells are beginning to show signs of failure, hence shortage of water in some places especially the Molepolole areas,” he said. The corporation, according to Masire, has got to do everything it can to preserve the water that is already there for future use. He raised concern at the rate at which water is lost, saying major water losses are in Molepolole where 50% of the water is lost. Masire said nationwide the water loss rate is at 45%. And hence water restrictions have to be kept in place, he said. “We are not advising on the lifting of the restrictions because of the challenges we have. Some areas still have challenges of water and lifting the restriction will escalate the shortage in those areas,” he explained. Masire said the restrictions are still kept because of the behaviour and improper use of water by customers. Some of the challenges that WUC is faced with include old infrastructure that adds to water loss. Masire said most of their infrastructure has reached its design life. He, however, said they are working on upgrading it to allow for proper distribution of water across the country. “Efforts are under way to upgrade the infrastructure as evident with the north-south carrier. The upgrade works are to be done country wide,” he said. Masire called on the public to be partners with the corporation to help reserve water.