IT’S FINALLY HAPPENED
Something I predicted more than 20 years ago has finally happened. I had openly questioned how long public authorities could go on investing in new high quality tap water systems, when only a small fraction of the volume was needed for people to drink. It would, of course, be better to have proper piped public water provision direct to every home. But the cost is huge. It would also be better for all water to be sensibly costed, priced and valued so that supplies are not squandered. But water is emotional as well as economic. I have often reflected on these themes in this blog. So, what has changed ? Well, a Government Minister in India has finally decided to consider investing in bottled water rather than tap water. Moreover, the city identified for this trial is none other than Mumbai. I saw the story last week on dnaindia.com under the heading “Soon, bottled water may replace public taps in Mumbai.” The cost would be 5 Rupees for 20 litres. “Though it is dearer than tap water, it would help us sorting out sanitation problems and control waterborne diseases”, said Water Supply and Sanitation Minister Laxman Dhobale. Perhaps inevitably, there was a twist in the tale, as the Minister is also planning a 1 Rupee tax on all mineral water bottles to help pay for this. There are all kinds of pitfalls in this radical new approach, but the search for new water supply alternatives has to be applauded.