Nov 22, 2012

Can water-meters help saving water?


A view of Duhok Dam. PRESS PHOTO



The Kurdish Globe
Shvan Goran -- Duhok

The highest rate of waste is in Duhok
 
Every family in the city of Duhok and other cities of the Region, no matter how many members they consist of, or how much water they consume, pay the government only IQD 1000 (less than $1) monthly for the water bill.

"There are people who wash their cars and water their gardens for hours using drinking and clean water, and eventually pay only IQD 1000." This is the words of Khursid Musa, a man from Duhok, who sees his statement as an undeniable fact when the matter is related to the way of consuming water. "We don't have any system to organize using water properly yet" he claims, adding the vital need of having meters just as there are electricity meters at the moment, so people use less water and pay according to their consumption. "Otherwise this may lead to a huge water shortage in the cities and crises in Kurdistan." he claims.

An expert on water and dams believes that when the water main in Duhok was renovated, the old pipes should have been left to be used for supplying recycled water for gardens, washing cars and other uses. "This system is used in many cities around the world" Ramazan Hamza stated, adding that the installation of meters will lead to less consumption of water. "The most important thing when we decide on projects is that the works should be done on it properly, not to be neglected or delayed" Hamza says. He believes that when Turkey finishes the Gap Project in 2015 and builds several dams on the rivers flow to Iraq, it will cause a huge water crisis in Kurdistan and Iraq.

Can meters help?

In 2006 a decision was made for meters to be installed for every house in the Kurdistan Region to put an end to the wasting of water, but the project is still in its testing stage. This project is being tested in 165 typical houses in Duhok city at the moment to observe the work of the meters and the quantity of the water used by each family.

A designing engineer in Duhok Water Directorate who was appointed to work on installing the meters for all houses of Duhok, says that they installed the devices in only two typical houses of Duhok to test them last year," but then the project was halted because the way of working and the amount of money for each unit was not specified." Saeed Izzat said.

Last year, The KRG Ministry of Municipality tried to install meters so as people consume water systematically according to their needs and to put an end the large waste of water that the region witnesses. The Ministry contracted with a UAE company. In the first step a limited number of the meters were brought to the three provinces of the Kurdistan Region, 5900 of them were provided for Duhok province. But then the whole project was suddenly halted by the Ministry.

According the Directorate of Water in Duhok, the project is to be implemented in a new way in all the cities of the Region at the end of this month. And according to the meter each person can use only 250 liters of water within 24 hours, otherwise he will be fined.

Waleed Jalal, another man from Duhok sees the step as 'Better late than never' and suggests that the project should have been implemented during the renovation of Duhok water main which is being undergone at the moment. "In that case" he says "people could've paid a part of the money the government allocated for buying each device." But as the Engineer says, people will not be charged for the installation of the devices and explained that each meter will cost US$ 120 all of which the government will pay.

According to Duhok Water Directorate, people of Duhok waste 40% of drinking water for other purposes like washing and gardening. This is the highest rate among the two other cities of Irbil and Suleimaniya. The Director Jalal Jameel suggests that there should be a plan by the government for the people who waste water. He says the highest amount of money taken from people is IQD 10 thousand, even though, they sometimes complain about this amount. He complains that the water main in Duhok is old and 20% of it needs renovation.

Underground water is in danger

Ground water in Kurdistan has witnessed a big decreasing of its levels in recent years. That is why the Region needs some plans to prevent the huge impacts of the decreasing.

Muhammad Amin Faris, General Director of Water Resources stated earlier that the long term impact of drought that many parts of the world have witnessed, including the Kurdistan Region during recent years, caused the reduction of the levels of ground water. He says that the decreasing has reached 60 meters in some areas. Faris claims that the risk has increased even more after the large number of wells which have been dug by people for different purposes. "There are 20 thousand unlicensed wells in the Region" he added.

Amin explained that a large number of springs have run dry, which caused people to depend solely on the ground water. He suggests that the KRG makes some strategic water projects using river water for both drinking and irrigation.

Khurshid Musa hopes that people think of the issue seriously as he does and imagine how difficult life would be if we lost this God-given gift " in some countries, there is not even clean water to drink, but here, people use drinking water for washing cars and streets" he concluded.

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