Over 2,000 drainage blockages in just one year
In just one year the Water Services Corporation had to work on more than 2,000 blockages of the drainage system due to unauthorised dumping. Although the corporation always seeks to discuss matters with wrongdoers for alternative solutions, unfortunately many are not caught, but those who are indeed caught will invariably face criminal prosecution.
Economy Minister Tonio Fenech, responsible at Cabinet level for the WSC, said this in Parliament yesterday as he introduced the debate on the corporation’s estimates for 2011.
Going through the corporation’s perceived successes over the past year, he said that having achieved the goal of becoming the only country in the Mediterranean to treat its sewage water 100 per cent, the WSC was already working on an experimental project not to throw the treated material into the sea but to use it as second-class water for the construction industry, besides agriculture and other uses.
This would eventually reduce the burden of having to produce water for various uses from the aquifer and through reverse osmosis. The recently-inaugurated sewage treatment plant at Ta’ Barkat, limits of Xgħajra, was also generating one megawatt of electricity per hour, enough for 1,400 homes, from its own emissions of gas and thereby partly paying for its own operation.
Mr Fenech said that even in its efforts to reduce leakages, the WSC had achieved its best-ever results since 1995, when it had been losing 3,900 cubic metres per hour, reducing infrastructure leakage to a mark of 2.1 out of 10. The current loss was of 460 cubic metres out of a production of 29 million cubic metres a day.
By the end of 2010 the upgrading of the water distribution infrastructure had been enhanced by five per cent, with 17,000 interventions in the system countrywide bringing leakages close to the economic level of leakage.
A total of 75,000 smart meters, out of a complete project of 250,000 had already been installed, which meant the project could be completed by the end of 2012.
Minister Fenech paid tribute to Arms Ltd and its workforce for having greatly enhanced customer care, with the initial 2.5 hours’ waiting time now down to not more than 27 minutes. Thanks to a reformed IT system 88 per cent of households and businesses were receiving bills regularly four times a year, while some two per cent were still backlogged for verification.
The improvements were being felt by both the people and the company, with more than 3,000 having registered to pay on line and more than €250,000 having been received in that way.
Just as people were penalised for late payments, customers who paid by direct debit through the banks would get a discount of two per cent to encourage more efficient payment.
Contributing to the debate were Minister George Pullicino and Nationalist MPs Philip Mifsud, Ċensu Galea and Joe Falzon together with Labour MPs Marlene Pullicino, Leo Brincat, Silvio Parnis, Marie Louise Coleiro Preca and Joe Mizzi.