Not a water festival

Muna Al-Fuzai

The national holidays in Kuwait will begin on Thursday evening and end on Monday night. This period is like a big escape for people, with congestion at the airport expected to reach its peak. Congratulations to them! It’s a wise decision because of what happens annually in the name of celebrating the national days, and it is natural that many want to be away during these days.

For years now, the celebration of the national holiday has become a festival of wasting water, after the decision of the environment authority to prevent the use of foam due to health risks. So using water has become a phenomenon and is the most prominent feature of the Kuwaiti celebrations. In Dec 2017, the administrative judiciary issued a verdict to force the Cabinet to prevent the wastage of water during the national celebrations. This decision also opened a debate on the wastage of water throughout the year.

Kuwait is among the countries suffering from water poverty, high cost of seawater desalination and groundwater scarcity, so such a logical decision is required. A morning tour of residential areas is enough to see some maids and drivers clutching hoses to wash cars, with large lakes forming on streets as if a pipe has burst. It is a really sad and shameful scene.

The efforts of the Environment Public Authority succeeded in passing a law criminalizing the use of foam during national celebrations. Will it succeed, in cooperation with the ministry of electricity and water, in pushing the Council of Ministers to adopt a similar law criminalizing the wastage of water in the streets during the celebrations, and face the water sprays?!

I think that the problem is not only in wasting water, but also in how we convey the concept in our children’s minds that emphasizes the importance of preserving water. How can we teach this to our children as long as we allow them to spray water on people and waste it just for fun?

Recently, the government carried out campaigns against those who waste water washing cars. I support such an action because the value of a drop of water costs the ministry – from production till distribution – a lot of money and efforts. But this doesn’t seem important to those who waste water just to play and harm others. Is there is no understanding of the culture of celebration, or has the government left things up to people, leading to chaos and wastage of water?

Many countries in the world impose fines on people who waste water because of a lack of adequate water resources such as rivers and the fear of facing drought that threatens the lives of all. The United States legally issues fines on areas that waste water. For example, the State Water Resources Council Control said in a press release that Beverly Hills and three other areas were fined $61,000 because they consistently failed to meet the goals of water conservation.

In Kuwait, since 2011, there has been a discussion on the subject of wasting water throughout the year, especially with regards to washing cars, and imposing fines. The large water puddles damage the streets and cost the state budget large sums of money for maintenance. The per capita daily consumption of water sometimes reaches 500 liters, a number that clashes strongly with the reality of water poverty. The ministry of electricity and water is seeking to contain this phenomenon through the work of a judicial control team and fines of KD 500.

I wonder how the law will be applied on the wastage of water on the national days. The coming days will show who is the strongest – the law or the revelers – to ensure the holiday is a celebration and not a water festival.

By Muna Al-Fuzai

This article was published on 22/02/2018