ABU DHABI //Emiratis in Abu Dhabi will be sent bills for the water they use from next month - but they won't have to pay them.
Emiratis, who receive their water free of charge thanks to government subsidies, are being urged to study the bills to become aware of how much water they use - and waste - each month, and reduce it.
The bills are being sent out by the Abu Dhabi Distribution Company, the Al Ain Distribution Company, with support from the Regulation and Supervision Bureau (RSB), a regulator for the water, wastewater and electricity sector of Abu Dhabi.
Posters explaining the bills have been on display this week.
Ali Salem, 32, an Emirati from Abu Dhabi, says the bills are a great idea butacceptance by the national population will take time.
"It will give us ideas on how to save water, Mr Salem said. "But people should have been made more aware long before this."
Khaled Muhammed Humeid, 31, a police officer, said the idea had been a long time coming.
Mr Humeid closely watches how much water and power he and his wife use, and believes other Emiratis will be spurred to do the same.
"It's a very good idea and it will definitely prompt my wife and I into looking further into our consumption patterns," he said.
The cost of water supplies has stood still since 1995, and the price of electricity since 2005. Emiratis pay 14 per cent of their electricity bills while expatriates pay half. Expatriates also get a 70 per cent discount on their water bills, while Emiratis are exempt.
But Emiratis should be charged for water, said Mr Salem, as "we don't want people to mess about".
As well as the bills, which will also show the level of government subsidies, another 200,000 "smart meters" will be rolled out next month.
So far 400,000 meters, which can calculate a home's power use, have been installed. The aim is to have 800,000 in place by next year.
And every Emirati and expatriate household in Abu Dhabi will receive two bills - one each for water and electricity - each with a green tick or red exclamation mark to show ideal consumption levels. Homes will not be charged extra.
People should be made aware of what their ideal consumption level should be, said Nicholas Carter, the director general of RSB.
"If you live in a flat, your average consumption a day for electricity should be 20 kilowatts," he said. "For people living in larger premises, this rises to 200 kilowatts."
People should be using between 700 and 5,000 litres of water a day, depending on accommodation.
Most people fall into the "ideal" category, Mr Carter said, although in the hotter months more are expected to exceed the limit because of air-conditioning.
Yaaqoub Al Jaberi, the business planning and performance deputy manager for the Al Ain Distribution Company, said: "An informed customer is a smart customer. The bill will make people notice and it will make them change their habits."