People in countries and states where water is scarce, know and practice the art of conserving and careful use of this scarce commodity. People are very used to going to great lengths to use as little as possible for their daily needs. Almost all homes in those countries have water meters and people are charged under different bases for water consumption. Few wash their cars at home, and go to car washes where water is used sparingly and reused as grey water. Grey water is used for gardens.
Colombo folk, now pay increasing charges for water and are more conscious of the cost; rarely do we see a maid watering the garden with a hose, and instead see them use watering cans to water specific areas of plants and flower beds, when there has been no rain for over 10 ten days. These days the rains are heavy and thoughts of water conservation are few, however it is now time to think of conserving a larger percentage of this rainwater, that now just flows down to the sea, without prior use.
All new rural water schemes come with a water-meter, and homesteads are charged for the water they use. It comes from a central source via the pipelines that are now increasingly being laid along the roads with outlets to each building plot. When the bills come people begin to realize the need to conserve and hence are careful in their use. Many homes that have this so called mains supply also have wells and therefore use the well water when needed or as necessary.
It is now dawning on people that the well water is not an unstoppable source of free water, and that the water table is affected by over use of well water, and sometimes can lead to permanent loss, where the ground water level does not refill.
I have to pay a standard fee per season for the use of water to my fields. It is a nominal charge, which does not take into account the true cost of supplying water via the system of channels and canals from the Minneriya Tank. I have stated before that I have perennial problems of non receipt of water, as I am the last in the channel and my neighbors who are further up take the water (more than their allocation) with none left for me, resulting in my having to pump water from the river to make up the shortfall. This incurs the ire of the authorities for so doing, as it is supposed to be water that is due further downstream harvested by a system of anicuts to paddy fields. Whilst excess water seeps into the river from field ahead of me, I am supposedly prevented from pumping that back for my fields!!!
The attempt recently to make an annual charge for the use of a well in one’s own property was greeted with horror. However whilst I agree at present it is best not to do so, it is still worthy of a reminder that the precious water MUST be conserved.