KRG to use water consumption meters to cut water wastage


By Nagham Haidar (Awat):

The Water and Sewage Directorate of Kurdistan Region is planning to set up water consumption meters in Kurdish households to regulate water usage.

“Due to the large amount of water wastage in the region, the KRG has dedicated a part of its master plan for 2014 to set up water consumption meters in each Kurdish household”, said Sarbast Osman, the vice chairman of the Sulaimanya Water Administration who is responsible for setting up the annual master plan for Sulaimanya city and reporting to the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government).

The Swedish Global Statistics issued in the Kurdish Globe show that a person living in Kuestan Quarter in Erbil uses 800 liters of water per day, while a Swedish citizen uses only 120 liters a day. This 800 liters of water can generate 320 amps of electricity, which can provide enough electricity for 106 households, given that each house in Kurdistan needs only three amps of electricity.

“People waste more than they actually use. If you walk down the street you can see clean water coming out of the houses. In Kurdistan it is what we spend most on after electricity,” explained Sarbast Osman

“Kurdistan citizens waste lots of water and are irresponsible, they consume 2 to 3 times water above international standards,” said Nabil Muhammad manager of Nature Iraq, an NGO that works on environmental issues in Iraq.

Osman said there are many signs of a growing water shortage in the region. Ten years ago, when the government drilled for water, they only had to go 100 meters to reach the water; now it’s more than 300 meters, he said.

This considerable decrease of underground water has alarmed the KRG into applying a strict charging system to water usage in the region that is intended to decrease water consumption.

Some people consider the overuse of water as part of Kurdish culture.  Kawa Ahmed, a Kurdish returnee from Sweden, refers to “the sight and the scent of the wet alleys washed by Kurdish women” with nostalgia because “it reminds me of my small village”.

“And this is what you will never find in Sweden” he explained.

However, the story behind Ahmed’s nostalgic image is one of serious water wastage in a region that is facing heightened water issues.

“Half of the total amount of water wastage is the drinking water that is distributed among people, and among the major ways of wasting water are car and alley washing and lack of water-wings on the household tanks that prevent the water from running over the tank when it is full”, said Nabil Muhammad.

But, as Kawa Ahmed implies, the Kurdish way of life differs from other societies. Some of the daily activities, in this case washing cars and alleys, has been and is an integral part of Kurdish culture, said Kawa. Unlike Kawa Ahmed, who describes these aspects of Kurdish culture as something unique, today the KRG is dealing with these practices as problems.

“Kurdish people do not feel very much related to this soil; they don’t think of themselves as the owner of this land, thus they do not preserve anything. They are like the ‘British imperialist’, they want to suck out as much as possible, leaving nothing behind for the coming generations,” Osman said.

From a sociological point of view, this issue is not only because of a  lack of patriotism or rationality of Kurdish people, but also because of the composition of the newly-developed urban Kurdish society, said Muhammad Walid a sociologist and school teacher. Kurdish society is moving towards a more urbanized way of life. And, the thing is, people are moving to the cities from the countryside. These people coming to the cities used to “enjoy the sight of water running, which does not fit into the urbanized way of life,” Walid added.

Those people coming from villages enjoy overusing water. As the returnee Ahmed mentioned, this is what reminds him of his village. But the problem here is that people do not understand the difference in the two ways of life.

However, people coming from the countryside to the cities are not the only ones who waste water. Hero Osman, a Kurdish householder originally from Sulaimanya said that she never stops watering the street unless the water goes off. “We have been living this way for our entire existence, and Kurdish soil is rich enough to satisfy the thirst of the world,” justified Hero.

“Unless people go through the pain of running out of water in their households, they tend to ignore the issue”, said Walid.

Another aspect of the problem is the lack of educational campaigns and media coverage, said Muneer Salim, a reporter for the Gali Kurdistan channel who has worked on several environmental programs and campaigns

To add to the cultural explanation of the way Kurdish people use water, the sociologist Walid explained that Kurds are neither trained through the educational programs, nor are they enforced by some fining method or fair charging policy for water usage. They are not committed to rationality in using the natural resources in general, and water in particular, because “without punishment, people’s behaviors will not change … They still need time to reach the point of rational use of water and all the other resources.”

So far the government has used a system of charging people regardless of their consumption. And, as Walid said, “People do not pay accordingly that is why they use carelessly, so the value is not perceived since people do not feel the pain of paying according to consumption.”  The new meter system plans intend to impose fees that increase directly with consumption.

Osman said that the meters will provide 200 liters to each person per day.

However, some KRG officials and members of the rural public do not think the new system is realistic. Anwar Magid, a water tank driver who distributes water in the Kanypanka countryside, said that, “no one in the neighborhood gets even 100 liters to satisfy drinking water needs or to meet his/her other daily needs, and now they are applying meters for water! It just does not make sense since we are already suffering from water shortage.”

“The new system is designed to cut waste, and it is not going to solve all of the water issues in the area,” Osman explained.

One Response to KRG to use water consumption meters to cut water wastage
  1. Bayar
    March 18, 2017 | 12:42

    Very informative and interesting article. I believe we shall return to our own roots, the roots of feeling we own that country and its water resource. thus, we could solve the problem of water shortage and consumption without applying any smart solution even.

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