Isolated islands’ public water supply to be integrated

The Okinawa Prefectural Government has decided to integrate public water supply systems serving residents of eight isolated islands in Okinawa.

The aim is to reduce and unify the charges residents pay for water on these islands that have been the highest among Okinawa’s municipalities. For example, in Kita Daito Village the cost of water is the highest in Okinawa, and about 2.8 times higher per month than average on Okinawa’s main island. In other words, there is a major gap in the water charge between the main island and the isolated islands.

According to prefecture officials, the monthly water charge on Kita Daito Village is the highest in the prefecture and is currently ¥3,535 per 10 cubic meters. In Minami Daito it’s ¥3,354, followed by ¥3,250 in Aguni.  The average on the main island of Okinawa is ¥1,265 per month.

According to the plan, the Prefectural Office aims at reducing the gaps in water fees and make sure of stable management of water distribution. The change is expected to result in water charges on the main island of Okinawa and Ie Island to increase.

There are eight villages on remote islands that will be affected; Tokashiki, Zamami, Aguni, Tonaki, Minami Daito, Kita Daito, Iheya and Izena.  The new policy was decided in September.  The Prefectural Office is planning to ask for understanding and cooperation from 23 municipal governments including Ie Island after striking a basic agreement with the eight villages earlier this year.  The Prefectural Office is scheduled to complete this project by the fiscal 2021. If everything goes smooth, some of the villages will start seeing the reduced water charges as early as fiscal 2017.

So far, all of the eight islands have tapped into the prefecture’s general account in order to hold down the burden of the water cost. However, the Prefectural Office has determined that it is increasingly difficult to continue to maintain a stable supply of water, and the issue contributes to regional gaps in equality.

It has not yet decided how much the water fees in the 23 municipalities would need to go up, as it will depend on the facilities’ improvement expenses in the eight villages.