Opposition legislator Mark Vanterpool has issued a call for the Water & Sewerage Department – an entity for which he had ministerial responsibility for the last eight years - to be made into a statutory body.
Contributing to the recently-concluded budget debate in the House of Assembly, Vanterpool made the call while suggesting that the department is not being operated well.
“I can’t blame anyone. I won’t blame myself alone either but Water and Sewerage is a disaster,” the former minister responsible for utilities said.
“[It’s] no fault of the workers, no fault of the people there but in terms of a strategy of what we are going to do there going forward with a utility such as Water & Sewerage, I think we need to come to the place where we can make a serious decision and make Water & Sewerage under a statutory organisation,” he added.
Becoming a statutory body would mean the department would now be run by a board and Vanterpool said there are benefits to his proposal.
“A statutory body can pay attention to [things] in terms of revenue, expenditure, engineering needs, in terms of supplying the people of this territory with water in the right way, in a fair way, in an equitable way,” Vanterpool argued.
Water shortages and crippling expenditure
The legislator further said he had grown tired of giving reasons to explain water shortages in areas such as Sea Cows Bay when he was the portfolio’s minister.
“We should be able in this day and age to get water throughout the territory on a consistent basis. Water & Sewerage need some engineers! Some help, some direction. It needs a board that they can sit with on a regular basis, and this board can pay attention to them as they should as a utility.”
“You will see in the record in our last set of Cabinet meetings that Water & Sewerage is recommended to go to a statutory level. Hopefully, we can pick up on that and make it possible because not only does it have an impact on us in the manner that we spoke about but it has a profound economic negative impact on the territory,” the opposition legislator added.
He continued: “Why is it that we are spending, I don’t know the number, but around $30 million on Water & Sewerage both on the department level and from the purchase of water maybe $22 or $23 million and it may be more than that for all I know, and we are only collecting $2 to $3 million, maybe $4 million maximum every year.”
He said the territory is losing almost a $100 million over a four-year period.
“Where is the revenue for the other $22 million that we bought? And I am not saying that we don’t have to make some subsidization of it because in every country that happens with water. But, there is no way the disparity should be between $24 million or $25 million,” he argued.