Higher water bills will encourage consumers to save precious resource

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 June, 2010, 12:00am

For 15 years, Hong Kong residents have enjoyed some of the lowest water charges in the world. However, we are using too much water and our consumption rate keeps increasing. The government should end the freeze on water tariffs to encourage consumers to be less wasteful.

Of course consumers do not want to pay higher bills. The freeze has been in force since 1995 and this has kept charges low.

Consumers would argue that they face additional financial pressure because of the global economic downturn. Higher tariffs would have a greater impact on them than before the crisis. But it is important to make Hong Kong people appreciate water and be less wasteful.

We have to pay for what we use. Under the present system there is no charge for the first 12 cubic metres and the charge for the next 31 cubic metres is low.

According to official figures the water tariff comprises 0.3 per cent of the average total monthly household bill.

I think that with such a low cost people do not consider the importance of saving this precious resource, with consumption being 88 per cent higher than in some developed countries in Europe.

As with, for example, electricity, we should be sparing in our use of water.

If water charges have that effect it will help the environment.

Hongkongers depend on the mainland for much of their fresh water supply.

Older people can remember when we had to depend on what we had here and were subjected to water rationing.

If we continue to waste water then we may find history repeating itself and rationing may return.

People are far more aware now of the need for environmental protection and citizens should see any increase in water tariffs as part of an overall attempt to be less wasteful when it comes to natural resources.

While I do support a system of increased tariffs, there has to be a period of public consultation before a decision is made.

Tang Chi-chung, Tsz Wan Shan