Qatar’s efforts to enforce a ban on excessive use of water and electricity are being hampered by legal issues, an official of national utility company Kahramaa has said.
Inspectors are apparently unable to carry out their role properly because they require a judge’s permission to enter people’s homes to check their usage.
“We are doing all we can to help check the waste of the precious utilities, but our inspectors are constrained by the fact that they need a court order to enter a home to check the waste.”
Under the country’s Conservation Law No. 26 of 2008, residents can be warned or fined for leaving their outside lights on between 7 am to 4 pm, or for using a hose to wash a car or water a garden with potable water.
Article 4 of the law allows for fines of between QR1,000 and QR10,000, and the fine can be doubled if the same law is found to be broken again within three years of the first offense.
It’s not clear, however, whether such hefty fines have ever been handed out.
Last November, Kahramaa said it had warned 2,260 customers via text messages about their usage, but Al Hanzab was unable to give any details about specific action taken against erring customers during the CMC session.
The Conservation Law was introduced to help combat the incredibly high demand for both electricity and water in Qatar.
Qatar’s residents use an average of 500 liters of water every day, making the country one of the world’s biggest consumers of water – four times as much as many European countries, and 10 times more than many others.
Quality of life, lifestyle and the country’s harsh climate have been cited as the major reasons for the high usage. The fact that water and electricity are provided free of charge to nationals has also been raised as an issue.
Despite launching public awareness drives to try to reduce usage, prominent local scientist Dr. Adel Sharif acknowledged last year that, given the country’s growth, changes in behavior would only have a limited effect.
To this end, the government is continuing to expand Qatar’s water production facilities. Last year, it announced plans to build a solar-powered plant with the aim of producing 80 percent of its water needs through solar energy.
Fahad bin Mohammed Al Attiya, Chairman of the Organizing Sub-Committee for COP18/CMP8, told journalists that these plans were “at the final design stage,” and that it could begin operation in 2014, but thus far, no further details of the plan has emerged.
A deal has also been signed for a new desalination plant at Ras Abu Fontas, due to enter service in 2015.
Qatar is also planning to build five “mega” reservoirs on the outskirts of Doha by 2016, a $2.7 billion plan that would increase the emergency water supply to seven days.