Garth Saunders, chief executive officer of the Central Water and Sewerage Authority (Photo: Searchlight.vc)

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Chief Executive Officer of the Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA), Garth Saunders says the state-entity is not expecting negative reaction from the public as at least 75 per cent of consumers next month begin paying at least EC$5 for water and waste disposal services.

“We don’t anticipate any negative reaction. The impact, certainly is negative because you are going to have to pay between EC$5 and EC$7 more — most customers — per month. My son, he uses up a phone card of EC$10 dollars in a couple of days,” Saunders said at a media briefing to detail the increase announced by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves during his budget address last week.

“We believe that … we have developed a certain relationship with the public where I think they understand, by and large, what we do and how we respond to complaints and to emergencies. And I believe that after that 20-minute presentation that consumers can see, everyone can see what our situation is,” Saunders said after detailing the reasons for the increases, the first since 2007.

He said that the CWSA’s revenue declined between 2003 and 2007 and while an increase was granted in 2007, it was not at the levels the CWSA requested.

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The CSWA, however, he said, has since spent EC$10.8 million to finance its capital project.

“We have laid it out for you. We have given you the facts and what the facts are showing is that the CWSA cannot continue [like this],” he said.

“And if your bill is $40 and I tell you that you are going to get an increase. What would be your expectation of that increase? I am sure that you are going to say maybe EC$45- EC$46 dollars from EC$40. Well, it has gone from EC$40 to about EC$47 and that is for solid waste and water supplies,” he added.

“It’s an increase and we are cognisant of the fact that everything else is going up but all those things that are also going up are affecting the CWSA and we hope that the consumer will see that,” he further stated.

Saunders said that the company would continue to try “to be efficient, to limit our expenses, to watch maybe where we have abuse of fuel expenses, maybe tyres, we have systems in place to monitors those things so we can show that we are efficient.

“And, as you know, we are one of those utilities we operate with a very small vehicle fleet. … We don’t have enough vehicles and we have been operating like that for years,” he said during the briefing broadcast live on radio.

“We would like to be able to improve our condition but, the priorities are, naturally, our consumers,” he further stated.

Saunders said that the CWSA wants to continue with its capital projects.

“We want the projects to improve water quality. We want the life of our landfills to be extended and we want our services at the landfills to be improved. We want our equipment to be running all the time because once our equipment is down and we have to rent equipment, it’s a serious burden for us,” he said.

“These are the thing we want our consumers to understand. We are about serious business and we want to assure our customers that we will be doing our best, as we always do, to provide good quality service and we hope that this increase is not burdensome on you. We hope you consider it, in light of all the other expenses, and you give it the priority it deserves,” he said.

Saunders said that 75 per cent of CWSA consumers will endure an increase of EC$10 or less for water supply and sewerage services.

The increases are higher for consumers using more than 5,000 gallons of water per month and would see the bill for 10, 000 gallon of water move from EC$105 to EC$135 a month.

“… customers using between 5,000 and 10,000 gallons, you will see an increase in your bill of somewhere between EC$10 and EC$30. But there are only 25 per cent of persons in that category,” Saunders explained.

“But the majority of people, 75 per cent of them, will see an increase in their bill of between EC$5 and EC$10 per month,” he said.

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