Raising water fees is a bad idea

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 December, 2011, 12:00am


In a letter to the editor (SCMP, November 7), Howie Lee criticises the higher water tariffs. I agree that it is not necessary for the government to raise fees if it wants to reduce water usage.

A rise in water charges will hurt low-income people, whereas the well-off will hardly be bothered by it. They can continue to waste water if they wish.

Meanwhile, low-income people may be compelled to stop showering or doing their washing regularly. That could lead to hygiene issues. As a result, just as we reduce water usage, we will face a new problem created by it. We may well end up worse off in the end.

If the government really wants to reduce the usage of water, it can use other methods than raising water charges.

The government could initiate a publicity campaign to urge people to cut down on their water usage for the sake of the environment. We should avoid discriminating against low-income households.

Chow Wai-fu, Shatin Tsung Tsin Secondary School

From the Editor

Thank you for your letter, Wai-fu. Oil became the new gold, and now water has become the new oil. Many people in Hong Kong don't realise just how precious water really is, and it seems an easy solution to increase water rates to drive home this idea.

But you are quite right when you point out that this will only really affect the poor. Perhaps the solution would be to subsidise water to certain buildings or areas, or even households.

It is a government's duty to provide a minimum standard of living for its people. But, on the other hand, while Hong Kong can afford to pay for the water, the mainland can't really afford to give it. While people are not exactly dying of thirst on the mainland, there are definite issues of supply and demand. Perhaps we need to begin education programmes in schools to teach youngsters how precious water is.

Susan, Editor