Prepaid water meters will be introduced soon to curb water wastage and reduce the burden of subsidies on the government, the Ministry of Development (MoD) has revealed.

Speaking during a meeting of the Legislative Council (LegCo) on Saturday, MoD minister YB Dato Seri Paduka Hj Suhaimi Hj Gafar said the cost of water production is 90 cents per cubic metre, but it is only sold to the public at 11 cents per cubic metre — a subsidy of 88 per cent.

Minister of Development Dato Hj Suhaimi during the opening of the Legislative Council on March 5, 2018. Photo: Rudolf Portillo

Brunei has the highest water consumption in ASEAN at 380 litres/ day per person, compared to Malaysia at 212 litres/day and Singapore at 151 litres/day.

YB Dato Hj Suhaimi said the MoD has completed research on water tariffs with the aim of shifting the public mindset to conserve water; reducing government subsidies; and reducing wastage without affecting low-income households.

He added that the new prepaid meter will be introduced in phases — without giving a concrete date — and will also help address non-payment of water bills. Arrears owed to the government for water bills was $39 million dollars by the end of 2016.

The minister said the MoD will be replacing more old pipes in order to prevent water leakage, aiming to reduce water wastage by more than 45 per cent, in line with World Health Organization standards.

“Our water resources for the next generation will be affected if there is low awareness of water conservation,” he stressed, adding that water-saving practices such as rain-harvesting should be encouraged.

The recently completed Ulu Tutong Dam Project is projected to supply water to residents of Brunei-Muara and Tutong districts until 2040 and later, if water consumption rates can be reduced.