Water price hikes should be a last resort

I hope the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources will consider sustainable measures to curb water wastage ("Price of water will go up to ensure sustainable supply"; Feb 8).

I appreciate that the price of water has not been adjusted for the last 17 years, but I believe that a water conservation campaign is a better way to educate people in Singapore not to waste water.

Regardless of whether a family living in a three-room HDB flat comprises of four or eight people, the monthly tariff for the first 40 cubic m is priced at $1.17 per cubic m and, thereafter, $1.40 per cubic m plus a hefty water conservation tax.

A suggestion is to have an incremental price mechanism to prevent wastage, such as a 50 per cent and 100 per cent water conservation tax for a household that uses more than 80 cubic m and 120 cubic m of water per month respectively, rather than penalising all households.

Singapore already has a lower water consumption per capita per day, at 151 litres, compared with Hong Kong and Taiwan, and our cost of water is five to 7.5 times more.

There is a minimum amount of water a person needs daily for drinking, bathing, washing, flushing the toilet, and so on.

So, it is unrealistic for Professor Asit Biswas to say that there should be a yearly increment of the water tariff to reduce consumption ("Water users worried but see need to curb wastage"; Feb 8).

Non-household users must look at recycling water or even consider building water tanks to keep rain water for specific use in order to reduce water wastage.

Price increases should be only a last resort to ensure sustainable supply.

David Goh Chee Hoe

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 11, 2017, with the headline 'Water price hikes should be a last resort'. Print Edition | Subscribe