Sri Lankans who dig traditional or tube wells to obtain water for drinking, agriculture, commercial or industrial purposes will have to obtain an annual permit from the Water Resources Board (WRB) at fees ranging from Rs.7,500 to Rs.15,000.
This is in keeping with the set of far reaching amendments to be introduced by the government to the Water Resources Board Act of 1964.
WRB Chairman Bandula Munasinghe told Daily Mirror yesterday the Irrigation and Water Resources Management Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva would submit the relevant Cabinet paper for approval and this would have a major effect on the country’s water resources, its management, preservation and utilisation.
According to the new amendments prior approval would be required to dig agricultural wells with a diameter of more than 12 feet, water projects for domestic use of few families, tube wells for domestic or agricultural purposes, water projects for drinking water bottling plants, natural or ground water resources utilised for soft drinks or related industries and the use of natural or ground water resources for industrial purposes such as car washing or laundry services.
The new laws will also apply to state, semi-government or private establishments and prior registration issued annually by the WRB will be required for the use of water for whatever the purpose might be.
Private or government establishments that use ground or natural water resources for bottling of drinking water are required to obtain a purification test report from the WRB every six months following a sample analysis. These institutions must also pay a royalty to the WRB if the bottling plant if it exceeds the use of more than 300,000 liters a month.
Rs.7,500 will be charged for the first 100,000 liters above 300,000 liters, Rs.10,000 for quantities between 400,000 litres – 500,000 litres, Rs.12,500 for 500,000 to 600,000 litres and five cents for every litre for bottle water exceeding 600,000 litres.
The registration fee for tube wells’ suppliers or diggers and water bottling plants is Rs.15,000 and their annual renewal fee is Rs.10,000. The WRB will be empowered to manage, regulate and control all natural and ground water resources in the country and permitted to enter any establishment that use water as their main asset for any purpose to inspect, monitor or regulating purposes and issue guidelines or directives.
Those establishments or individuals who violate the new regulations are liable for the suspension or prohibition of the registration and thereby the production or provision of services. All assets will be forfeited if any establishment continues its production or provision of services despite the suspension or prohibition under the new laws.
Strict regulations will be introduced to protect and preserve water resources ranging from rivers, tanks and tube wells to streams and canals that prevent releasing, leaking or dumping of chemicals, fertilizer, insecticides or pesticides, solid or soluble waste, sewage or any material that could pollute surface or ground water.
Mr. Munasinghe said the purpose of the new regulations was to protect water resources of the country for future generations as it has become one of the highly endangered commodities due to its haphazard use and environment pollution.
“Clean water will become the most precious natural resource on earth in the next 40 to 50 years and therefore, it is the responsibility of the present generation to take action to preserve and protect it for the future generation now before it is too late,” Mr. Munasinghe emphasized. (Sandun A. Jayasekera)