The government, through the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), is poised to institute stringent measures against producers of substandard drinking water on the Liberian market.
According to the EPA, those water producers who over the years have thought it prudent to put the lives of the Liberian people at risk will no longer have the free will and space to operate. “We must comply with the standard set by the government or you will be shut down. We will no longer allow our people to be shortchanged, especially with their lives in such a way,” EPA Deputy Executive Director, Randall M. Dobayou, II told an audience of producers in Paynesville on Monday.
“We want to send a bigger message out there. If you are a producer and you refused to come in compliance with the law, we will come after you,” he said.
Making special statement at the opening of a two-day EPA seminar for water producers, the DED noted that most producers lack not only the requisite equipment and infrastructure, but the required technical understanding of the industry as well.
The seminar is meant to train technicians of packaged drinking water producing companies in Montserrado County. It is intended to enhance the quality of water being produced by packaged water manufacturers.
“What some of you produce do not meet the minimal quality of what a safe drinking water supposed to look like and this is terrible. You are harming our people,” he said.
The actions of those Mr. Doubayou described as ‘bad producers’ are not only tarnishing the reputation of the industry, it is on a bigger scale putting the lives of the Liberian people in danger.
“Water you produced must be tasteless, odorless and colorless. You will be close if your products do not meet even the minimal requirements,” he told the gathering.
It is estimated that waterborne diseases including Typhoid, Cholera, Guinea worm, and Diarrhea killed 3.4 million people, globally, each year.
It is against this backdrop, the EPA said, the training was organized to help provide technicians the necessary education and awareness to help them remove or reduce bacteria and pathogens that contaminate drinking water, in order to decrease the incidents of waterborne diseases
Some productions are done in environments that are unsafe. “This is a concern to us,” he said.“We cannot permit you to carryout production in dangerous area (near cemeteries and wetlands and areas that encourage open air degradation) that will pose threats to the lives of our people. No matter how you refine your water, it remains contaminated because the environment is not suitable.”
Facilitators for the training were drawn from Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC), National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL), Ministry of Health, and the EPA. Participants are being lectured on how to turn ground water into fresh and safe, packaged drinking water. They are also being taught EPA’s regulation on production of packaged drinking water.
EPA statistics indicate that there are about five hundred water producers nationwide, four hundred of which are in Monrovia and its immediate environs.
While some of these producers endeavor to be in compliance with government’s regulations, others have refused to meet standards set and are therefore manipulating the sector. “There are many of your colleagues out there who refuse to come in compliance with government set rules and they are the ones who darken the image of the law.
Ninety percent of the country’s population consumes water that is produced locally while the rest, who have the financial capabilities, consume imported water. “This means that your sector plays a cardinal role in the existence of our people and maintenance of our society.
“We called you to reemphasize your role in our society and how to improve what you do. But you must be sincere to yourself, to the Liberian people and also be committed to the production high quality products,” he said.
A team of inspectors will access all water producing facilities across the country to ensure that producers are in full compliance with EPA’s drinking water guidelines
He noted that there are four recognized plastic (sachets) producers for water, but most of the products are not biodegradable, which is also a problem.
“We will also go after plastics producers for the quality of plastics they produce and whether these are being sold to legitimate business people who are in compliance with the laws of the country.
He said there is a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) that was signed with these producers that is being blatantly violated. “You need to abide by the MOU we signed by not selling to people who are violating our laws. If they fail to adhere to this call, we will also go after them.