Residents need to listen to warnings

Editorial, Normal

The National, Wednesday September 23rd, 2015

 THE water level at the Sirinumu dam has fallen below the critical half-way mark and will continue to drop with the prolonged dry weather in the catchment area.

Eda Ranu, which supplies water from the dam on the Sogeri Plateau to the National Capital District, is becoming increasingly concerned about the falling water level.

The state-owned water supplier says the level at the dam had gone down to 45 per cent of the full spill level, which was the “lowest level” so far.

“If the dry spell continues for a very long period, we might be forced to cut water pressure,” Eda Ranu chief executive officer Henry Mokono warned on Monday.

“We are working very closely with PNG Power to ensure enough water is supplied throughout the city as it will affect power supply too.”

Eda Ranu is urging consumers in the NCD to use water wisely. 

“This is an appeal to the general public to help in conserving water by changing water consumption habits so that water can last the duration of the El Nino”.

It is also appealing to manufacturing industries, which use water for bottling and making soft drinks, to “adopt aggressive water-saving programmes” and to “seek to use bore water when the water level becomes critical”.

While the management and emergency staff of Eda Ranu may be having sleepless nights over the critical water situation, the rest of the capital city does not seem to be overly concerned.

Many residents are still using hoses to wash their vehicles and water their lawns and gardens. 

They are not taking notice, deliberate or otherwise, of Eda Ranu’s stern warnings.

It is obvious the messages about the falling water level at Sirinumu dam and the power shortfalls need to be delivered in such a way that people will actually take note of.

Eda Ranu needs an aggressive media and public awareness campaign to convince city residents that the critical water and power situation needs their full cooperation.

The water utility with the assistance of power supplier PNG Power may need to consider imposing penalties, such as spot fines, on inconsiderate city residents who continue to waste the precious liquid on their vehicles, lawns and flower gardens.

Without an aggressive media and public awareness campaign, backed by tough measures to reduce water wastage, Eda Ranu is fighting a losing battle.

Many years ago when Port Moresby city was facing a similar dilemma, there was a suggestion for the Government to fund the construction of a pipeline from a reliable water source, such a river, in Central or the neighbouring Gulf, Milne Bay or Northern provinces to the Sirinumu dam.

It seemed like a very good idea but the timing was wrong because the Government did not have sufficient funds to finance such a project.

The current dry spell, which is expected to last into the New Year, is being spurred by the El Nino climatic conditions which could have disastrous consequences as the 1997 disaster.

Eda Ranu’s efforts to keep a reasonable supply of water at constant levels under the current dry spell and the fast declining water level at the Sirinumu dam would be made a lot easier if consumers cooperated and changed their water use habits significantly this time.  

The situation demands such cooperation and change of consumption habits and the city’s population and villagers in the periphery who are connected must take it upon themselves to conserve water and discourage others from wasting it as well.

People do not have any control over the El Nino weather pattern, yet all is within their power to conserve and use wisely the remaining water sitting in the Sirinumu Dam to ensure that they are supplied well into the dry period.

City residents have been warned and urged to help conserve water by both Eda Ranu and the relevant government authorities, including the National Disaster Office. 

If they abide by those water saving instructions, they can leave the rest to the powers of nature or pray for rain.

It is crucial that city residents abide by these warnings and conserve water.