Water is a precious commodity
This only brings back memories of the repetitive campaigns on the merits of saving water. Water is a precious commodity that should not be wasted. And to inculcate this wisdom into our people’s psyche, water was priced very much more than it costs to keep a tight rein on people wasting water.
Of course this also has a lot to do with the supply. We may have four taps flowing. But one tap is going to close in a matter of years and very unlikely to be replaced for all kinds of reasons other than good economic sense.
So over the years many zealous and good spirited people and organizations popped up with great ideas and devices to help the people to save on their expensive water bill. We reinvented waste water into drinking water which we proudly called Newater. Personally this is not the brightest marketing idea. They should have called it ‘organic’ water and could fetch a higher price for it. Organic is cool and healthy and good for the system as compared to synthetic water. It may even out priced spring or mineral water.
We also have companies manufacturing little timble devices to be fitted into the tap to reduce the flow of water, thus using lesser water per sec of flow. And the cisterns were either made smaller or large plastic bottles were thrown in for the same objective, to use less water.
All these are not enough. Car washing by spraying loosely from a water hose was discouraged. People were also taught on the virtues of showering, and saving water, instead of soaking in the bathtubs. And showering becomes an art in a sense. How and when to turn on the tap and when to apply the soap. How many minutes should one take a shower has also been carefully computed, and yes, to save water. This is probably the only country in the world when personal hygiene and toilet etiquette has been turned into a science.
While some would jump in glee at not having to take a bath to push the Save Water Campaign to the limits, many would resort to all kinds of ingenuities to cut down on their water bills. Some will do all their toilet activities in the kopitiams or at the workplace. That could be the reason why a crowded MRT train or bus doesn’t seem to smell so good in the morning.
Would all these efforts to save water have any negative side effects on our lifestyle, personal hygiene or the cleanliness of our food preparation? Or would these savings be significant enough to be worthy of the effort?
What shall we do in a time when the heaven opens up and blesses us with so much water? When oil is scarce, petrol prices go up. Likewise when water is scarce, we are expected to pay more for it. When our reservoirs are overflowing and water rushing into the sea, shouldn’t the price of water come down? Could water tariff varies with supply and demand, albeit for a few months in a year like all goods and services?
Maybe that is asking a bit too much to expect a huge mechanism to be sensitive enough to adapt its price over fluctuating supply and demand. It will be good though, during a rainy season, to encourage the people to use a bit more water, bathe a few times more, and make themselves cleaner to compensate on what they did not do during the drier months. The toilets and bathrooms could be cleaner, and the trains and buses could smell better.