Farmers are warning that the proposed raw water tariffs will harm the agricultural sector.
They told a ministry of water development consultative meeting the proposed raw water tariffs will be beyond the reach of most farmers.
“Under the days of water boards, we were paying annual charges of K22 000 for our dam. When it became the Water Resources Management Authority (WARMA), it went up to K43 000. The proposed change now will bring us up to K241 000 – an increase of 550%,” said Andrea Bizzaro, a farmer from Mkushi.
As from next year, WARMA will introduce raw water charges “to ensure equitable management of the resources”. The authority is currently holding nationwide consultative meetings on pricing.
Permanent secretary for Water Development Edward Chomba said the proposed raw water charges were necessary to curb wastage.
“It is aimed at ensuring that those given the responsibility to manage water in the country did not have an excuse for failure,” he said.
Chomba said the rainfall season produced 160 billion cubic meters of water, but 100 billion of it was lost due to inefficient management.
“We need to build more dams and harvest as much water as we can possibly can in order to compensate for the erratic rain season the country experienced in recent years,” he said.