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Tap water consumption encouraged to reduce use of plastic bottles

Malé piped water was touted as the highest quality in South Asia.



Several government agencies on Tuesday vouched for the safety of tap water for drinking in a push to discourage the use of bottled water. 

More than 280,000 plastic water bottles are used daily in the capital alone. Most households rely on the locally produced bottled mineral water for drinking.

But water piped to households by the Malé Water and Sewerage Company is of the highest quality in South Asia and “well above” World Health Organisation standards, Environment Minister Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan assured at a press briefing.

A multi-agency effort involving the environment’s ministry’s water department, the health ministry, the Environment Protection Agency, and the Maldives Food and Drug Authority was launched as part of the new administration’s campaign against single-use plastics.

Ensuring the safety of tap water is also a target of the government’s first 100-day action plan.

The president’s office banned single-use plastics in December and most government offices have since introduced glass bottles.

Seeking to counter the common perception that tap water is unsafe for drinking, EPA and MFDA officials made presentations and stressed that water is tested at three different stages before it is supplied to households.

Tap water is produced in the Maldives by desalinating salty groundwater taken from boreholes on islands. 

The state-owned MWSC also plans to publish water testing results once a week in a bid to gain public confidence.

Environment Minister Dr Hussain said efforts were under way to draft national regulations on installing water pipes at households to avoid contamination.

EPA deputy director general Ibrahim Mohamed said the agency was working on a “container deposit scheme” as part of a bottled water recycling programme.

There were bottled water shortages during the dry season in the past two years. After production companies halted deliveries in April last year, shops started rationing and the price of the smallest bottle rose to MVR15 (US$1).

The shortage in 2017 prompted intervention from the economic ministry to control prices.

While appeals to reduce plastic consumption and waste were made on World Environment Day last year, local NGOs condemned the hypocrisy of “creating and expanding a culture of bottled water consumption.”

A new water bottling plant that will produce 10,000 plastic bottles every hour was being set up in Kulhudhuffushi.