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W&SD losing approximately $22M annually- Finance Minister

- Premier Fahie said steps being taken to stop the haemorrhaging of $$ @ W&SD
Water & Sewerage Department collects on average $5 million per annum in revenues from the sale of potable water, but it pays to the water suppliers approximately $27 million per annum, which results in a gross variance of some $22 million each year. Photo: Facebook
Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie has bemoaned that the Water and Sewerage Department (WSD) is carrying serious deficits of more than $20 million each year; however, that will soon change. Photo: YouTube
Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie has bemoaned that the Water and Sewerage Department (WSD) is carrying serious deficits of more than $20 million each year; however, that will soon change. Photo: YouTube
DUFF'S BOTTOM, Tortola, VI- Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie has bemoaned that the Water and Sewerage Department (WSD) is carrying serious deficits of more than $20 million each year; however, that will soon change.

As we look at improving efficiency and effectiveness in public services, the WSD has been carrying significant deficits over the years,” the Finance Minister said during the 2022 budget presentation.

Hon Fahie said the department collects on average $5 million per annum in revenues from the sale of potable water, but it pays to the water suppliers approximately $27 million per annum, which results in a gross variance of some $22 million each year. 

“We must stop that haemorrhaging. A major contributor to this inefficiency is the very old infrastructure which results in 60 per cent of water being lost after production,” he remarked.

Legislation to remedy situation coming

Meanwhile, Premier Fahie said legislation is already before the House of Assembly, “to transform the department into a statutory body, which will give it more autonomy to tackle some of these problems in ways that it cannot under the present arrangement.”

“Additionally, to curb the margin of loss, the installation of digital meters to replace analogue meters is continuing throughout the Virgin Islands,” he said.

25 Responses to “W&SD losing approximately $22M annually- Finance Minister”

  • asura (16/11/2021, 07:27) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
    we have to send back WIllock there lol
  • Can’t make this up (16/11/2021, 08:12) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
    For how many years have they sold potable water for 18.5% of what they paid? And, for how many years did they live with 60% production losses? In many places, this might be seen as gross mismanagement (never mind the issues with poor water delivery) but here “it will soon change”.
  • Observer (16/11/2021, 08:22) Like (2) Dislike (2) Reply
    The Government is doing something for all residents, subsidizing the water. Not only for friends and family!
    • @observer (16/11/2021, 19:13) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Not true. There are many of us that do not live near a "main road" (or a politician!), so we don't get Government water
  • Josiah's Bay (16/11/2021, 08:35) Like (14) Dislike (0) Reply
    This crap could be easily fixed if Water and Sewerage would come out when people call them about leaks wasting gallons of water. I have been calling them for over a month about a leak on the road outside a fence just spraying gallons and they have not come to fix it yet. I am tired of calling them and if we are losing this much water on the road, I can imagine how much around the island is being lost. This is not rocket science to stop the wasting of water having to pay these hefty bills to pay water suppliers. You can start by turning off the leak on the road in front of where I live. I even stopped calling because of neglect discouraging me. Hey, my number is 342-5869 to get the ball rolling. Let's see if they contact me.
  • F1 (16/11/2021, 09:14) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    The W&S accounting system got to go. No bill and no adjustment to arreas after payment needs to stop.
  • EVER SINCE (16/11/2021, 09:28) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    Mr PENN ) LEFT WSD STARTED GOING DOWN THE HILL / AND THOSE WHO WAS BROUGHT IN TO DO THE JOB DON'T KNOW B FROM BULL FOOT / I BELIEVES TONY SMITH CAN DO A BETTER JOB THAN BOTH OF THEM TOGETHER WITH HIS EYES CLOSED
    • @ever since (17/11/2021, 22:30) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      he did not leave they removed him for the same thing they here pounding on now. tell them to put money in the department. toney? for goodness sake
  • save the trees (16/11/2021, 11:47) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    How can they be loosing money when they are paying Bi-Water for water they are not receiving?
    Stop playing mine games with the public.
  • Infrastructre? (16/11/2021, 13:02) Like (5) Dislike (1) Reply
    When was the last govt that seriously invested in infrastructure in the BVI? Roads bad, electricity grid bad since before irma. Water system bad, sewage in the streets, solid waste disposal a mess, fires burning like haiti over here, schools falling down on chilren heads. Yet we build a fishing park for gangsters to vandalize...
  • ROUGES BAY (16/11/2021, 13:41) Like (3) Dislike (3) Reply
    We don't have no water lines in Rouges Bay. When I called W&SD they say the Government not putting in any either.
    So how will the Government get revenue when the tenants only use cistern water?
    It's a shame...we should be given access to street water.
    • Eactly (16/11/2021, 14:20) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      No service or and meter supply of water no income....simple maths ......it all over the country... people begging for a bill of service of street water ...fucking shame on this country as awhole
  • jj (16/11/2021, 15:21) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    How can that been losing when you pay the same bill for three months sometimes you wander what's going on check with the audit department
  • Ne Timeas (16/11/2021, 16:36) Like (4) Dislike (1) Reply
    I’m speechless and need an eye examination, for my lying eyes must be deceiving me. How can a water utility be allowed to continue to operate with 81% money loss($22M) and 60% water leakage loss? This is gross neglect and poor, ineffective and inefficient management. Every water utility will have some water leakage loss. But a prudently and well-managed water utility will take strong and aggressive actions to minimize losses. This current situation is shameful and an embarrassment. The rate payers should be mad as hell. If is taking $5M and losing $22M annually, where does the WSD get capital to conduct maintenance, repair and capitalization? Is WSD doing proper and timely maintenance and repair?

    Moreover, the fix for debacle is not converting WSD from a department to a statutory body. That is just gymnastics, three card monte. The WSD needs an operational structural overhaul and a staffing overhaul. The first of business is to stop the massive and staggering 60% water loss. Leaks stopped, the whole system needs to be re-engineered.

    If 60% of the water receive is list, is WSD meeting residents potable water needs? And if so something is wrong. Is WSD having to incur a 60% loss to meet a 100% of the need? A water utility is typically a fee based system, ie, users pay a commensurate rate based on usage to fund operations, maintenance, repair and capitalization. The rate structure needs to be examined.
  • Waste alone (17/11/2021, 07:47) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Ask them for an estimate Years For water and can’t get it waste Alone
  • E. Leonard (17/11/2021, 12:14) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    The VI (British) is a small (59 square miles, spread among 36 islands with Tortola being the largest at 21 square miles) and water-challenged community. In previous decades before desalination, water sources were wells, springs, ghuts, catchments, drums, cisterns etc; it has no rivers or lakes. Its estimated population in 1960, 70, 80, 90, 2000, 2010 and 2020 was 8000, 9830, 11,471, 17,487, 20,313, 27, 796, and 30,237, respectively. Its current population is 30, 506 per UN estimate; approx 24,000 of the 30, 506 resides on Tortola.

    Faced with an exploding population, the VI needed a quantitative and reliable potable water supply. Consequently, it leaned heavily on desalinated water suppliers. BI-Water, a build-operate-transfer (BOT) 16-year contract/contractor, was the largest of the suppliers. Bi-water was a politically divisive issue. The decibel level was high across several election cycles. BI-Water interest was supposedly transferred to Seven Seas. And some of the terms and conditions of the BI-Water contract may have been modified? The previous high decibel level on BI-Water is now barely audible.

    Moreover, ground noise aside, a prudently and properly operated water utility absolutely has to be more than water production and treatment. It must also entail water transmission, storage, and distribution. The W&SD must have the capacity and capability to accept water from suppliers, transmit it, safely store it, and distribute it to customers. Additionally, the water utility infrastructure must be properly operated, maintained, repaired and capitalized. Minimizing water losses (60% is a staggering number) must be a top priority. The customer rate structure must be based on total operating cost (including overhead)+capitalization. The system is fee-based and self-supporting.

    The fix to W&SD is not an administrative/organizational change from a department to a statutory body. From afar, W&SD ailment is structural. For starters, its transmission lines needs to fixed and extended, along with extending more storage capacity. Additionally, it must be adequately funded to provide a comprehensive and robust maintenance and repair programme. Moreover, the mammoth and staggering $22M annual los is flashing RED light that is a Quadrant 1 issue, ie, it is Urgent and Important. $22M deficit and 60% water losses are Day 1 issues. The department needs some physical structural adjustments.,

    Moreover, there are no Pilates in this situation. Universally, there is a tendency to cast/heap blame on the person(s) who are currently in charge and may have inherited a mess. The reality is often that if we peek back we may unearthed the genesis and root cause of the problem. Too often too, lower level staff failing to get both support and resources from the top are used as scapegoats and get tagged as the cause of the failure. They are often fling under the bus and driven over and over. The W&SD issues spread across several administrations. The poor and long suffering consumers need the infrastructure fix for relief.
    • @E Leonard (19/11/2021, 04:48) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      Rarely do such well informed and nuanced comments appear on these blogs. Thank you for your contribution. I hope you stand for election because our politicians are largely without such cognitive ability.
  • @E. Leonard (17/11/2021, 16:11) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Good time line about water sources in the BVI. However, in doing so it appears as if you making a clear case for someone. But who can that be, ie, the current government, others etc. Why you like to sit on the fence without calling a spade a spade? Don’t expect you to answer.
    • Water Customer (17/11/2021, 18:41) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      @@E. Leonard, after reading the comment, this dribble is the best you can muster. Do you have a bias against the writer or trying to throw shade at someone else? Stop it. You should be morally shame of yourself. Mr. Leonard who I don’t know summarize the history of the water system and laid out somewhat of a blueprint on the way forward to fixing the water system. Government love to dish out thousands sometimes hundred of thousands to consultants for routine and common sense solutions; Leonard’s suggestions were free. If the published info is accurate, a 60% water loss is unacceptable. Fix the the damn water lines and follow-up promptly on leakages. The W&SD must immediately institute a water leak prevention and reduction programme. And if she fails to do so effectively, the Hon Kye Rymer must act. And if failed to act, Premier must get engaged. And if neither acts, see you at the polls. The Premier is currently in the UK. Nonetheless, he must call, text Kye etc immediately to get the ball rolling. This should be a first step in addressing this national issue. Let’s geh ah dun. Frustrated water customer.
      • @water customer (17/11/2021, 22:28) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        with all these things in place already the department need money to buy the things they need to fix the things that need fixing. speak with the staff.
        • @@Water Customer (18/11/2021, 13:09) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
          @@Water Customer, are you saying that the W&SD lacked the money to fix the things that needs fixing. This is a sad commentary on a vital resource-water. To use a well worn but important saying, water is life. I too heard the same thing that the department did not have the money to buy basic stuff.
      • Water Customer (18/11/2021, 13:27) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
        Based on Real Story, I have to make a correction to my blog. I made an assumption that the managing of the W&SD fall directly under the Director Pearline Scatliffe Leonard. But surprisingly and shockingly I was wrong. The responsibilities for managing the department is shared. The director has the administrative functions and the ministry managed the technical functions. Nevertheless, controlling and preventing leaks is important. Either the Premier Andrew Fahie or the MTWU Kye Rymer must issue a directive to WSD to develop a leak programme now. Water leaks should be treated as an emergency.
  • real story (17/11/2021, 23:41) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Here is another side of the sad story. The Water and Sewage Department (WSD) is poorly structured. There is no unity of command structure, i.e., one person controlling and being directly responsible for all operations. It operates like a matrix organization,ie, different people responsible for different functions in the department. The director (on paper only) is responsible for administrative functions, and some entity within the ministry is responsible for maintenance and repair etc. This structure is inefficient and ineffective.

    The article headline states the WSD is losing $22M annually. This is not the whole story, for the article didn’t outline how the budget is developed and structured. The fees paid by rate payers does not cover the full operating cost; the fees paid by customers only cover a fraction of the operational costs, ie, the WSD has a total costs of $27M with only $5M coming from fees. The other $22M is funded through either the government recurrent expenditure or consolidated fund. The reality is that if the rate structure was designed based on the total cost the rate for the average residential customer would be unaffordable. Consequently, the lion share of operational cost of the WSD is subsidized from other revenue streams.

    The bottom is that the WSD needs to beorganizationally restructured to improve its operational efficiency and effectiveness. For example, the leading and managing of the department must come under the full purview of the Director. The current structure is inefficient and ineffective and dysfunctional. It permits customers who don’t want to follow the process to take an end run around the department and run to the minister. Further improvements are needed in maintenance, repair, transmission lines, storage tanks etc.
  • RedStorm (18/11/2021, 17:29) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Silly, obsolutely silly. Where on earth government is was this level of financial means, and no idea how to fix it. This news had to be wrong in my house the first wastefulness of a thousand dollar all jackman would give account. But here government gone to millions. Silly obsoletely silly. Management is about the process tha t leaders should use to take ACTION. Why ! Why, the tax payers money could be use to make better salaries for the teachers. Why!
  • Model of Efficiency and Effectiveness (20/11/2021, 09:16) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    W&SD organizational and operational poor structure aside, its problems are emblematic of government operation in the BVI. What government department/ministry is a model of efficiency and effectiveness that others can emulate? In 1967, the iconic Hamilton Lavity Stoutt became the BVI first Chief Minister, starting ministerial government. HL Stoutt started the partial self-governing journey and on at untimely death in 1995, the baton was passed in a relatively good position for the other members of the team to build on. In the succeeding years, the leadership and management of the territory has been spotty. The territory should be farther along and in a better condition than it is with health, education and training, physical infrastructure, food security, water and sewage problems, telecommunications, electricity, environment etc. It is time for a relaunch. The window of opportunity is closing and fast. The problems with W&SD are clear—-structural. Fix it. The problems are not insurmountable and fix is doable. It just takes courage, boldness and will. Geh ah dun. Make smart investment in the department, adequately fund it, restructure the department, assign and makes roles and responsibilities clear and hold people accountable and responsible. KISS!


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