Go for hearts and minds, not the wallet

PROFESSOR Asit K. Biswas and Ms Cecilia Tortajada suggested that the price of water be increased to reduce consumption ("Time to tighten the tap on cheap water"; last Tuesday).

This may be not only controversial but also futile.

Increasing oil prices have not deterred consumers from using energy, nor have increasing petrol prices deterred motorists from driving.

The answer has to be education.

I see households using water wastefully every day.

They use a hose to wash their driveways and water their plants. The use of running water to wash cars is a common sight. Many also keep the water running when brushing their teeth.

Singapore residents must be educated on the scarcity of water and the inconveniences caused by its shortage. The message must penetrate deep to convince them that we cannot live without water.

To drive the message home, national water agency PUB can consider regular water rationing exercises.

Another effective method is a reduction in water pressure.

Household should be able to voluntarily reduce the water pressure to their premises.

Perhaps PUB could give such households the key to adjust the valve adjacent to their water meters.

Being able to change the valve setting to suit their needs will give households the confidence to reduce water pressure to their premises.

If we can get half the households here to reduce water pressure, much water will certainly be saved.

Ong Yoke Fei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2015, with the headline 'Go for hearts and minds, not the wallet'. Subscribe