Colombian companies and individuals who “squander water” are to be charged double the rates beginning last Sunday, according to Colombia’s Regulatory Commission of Water and Sanitation agency (CRA).
In an attempt to mitigate the consequences of the coming El Niño and the current drought, new measures have been taken into effect.
According to Colombia’s El Espectador newspaper, individuals and companies are going to be charged double if they exceed the average use of water.
The idea is that by implementing a penalty, it seeks to discourage the maximum consumption of water for each individual and company, according to the CRA.
The penalty procedure was established by the CRA, and the penalization system affects 15 states, nearly half of Colombia’s 32 states.
These 15 states are all in the high-risk group of water shortages due to drought and rising temperatures from the effects of El Niño.
The measurement of how the punishment is applied varies according to the local climate in each separate state, because the states have different averages in the use of water.
Cold climates, where the average water usage is 17 cubic yards, shall receive the penalty if they use more than 34 cubic yards of water. In temperate climates the average is 18.5 and the punishment will be applied if more than 36.5 cubic yards are used. Warmer areas with an average of 21 cubic yards of water usage will be punished should they use more than 42 cubic yards of water.
Money raised from the penalties will be devoted to the protection, reforestation, and preservation of watersheds, which supply the municipal’s water systems, according to CRA’s website. In addition, campaigns to encourage efficient water use and saving will also be instigated with the money collected from the funds.
The reason for implementing the penalty system is the coming of El Niño, which is set to begin hitting the country in August or September. El Niño is a weather phenomenon characterized by prolonged droughts, high temperatures, and extreme weather. The Colombian summer has, in addition, caused drought in the areas in question, which has deprived entire municipalities of potable water.
Last week the coffee farmers of Colombia announced that coffee production could suffer significantly due to the weather phenomenon. Certain coffee region areas, especially in the west and some parts of the north, are scheduled to harvest during the first quarter of 2015 — when the El Niño is predicted to be at its worst.
Coffee production could suffer by the higher temperatures, lack of rain, and possible infestation of the coffee berry borer beetle, which can destroy entire areas of plantations.