Members of the general public and the consumer affairs body will have until April 30 to submit their opinions on the proposal submitted by the Guyana Water Inc (GWI) to have its rates increased.The company has defended the proposal as part of its quest to provide good service to Guyanese.This was revealed by the utility company during the final public hearing on Wednesday that was hosted by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). There, GWI Managing Director, Dr Richard Van West-Charles addressed pending issues surrounding the company’s request to increase its rates by $500.The company has revealed that for the improvement of its services, a hike is necessary to support its revenues. Additionally, GWI simply cannot collect all of the monies that were owed by consumers, since there was a restriction on collecting after a certain amount of time had passed.According to Dr Van West-Charles, there are plans to advance the services being offered by the utility company. If the new rates are sanctioned, the additional monies will go towards improvement in the quality of water being offered. Additionally, the water network countrywide is being continuously maintained. Last month, the Managing Director had indicated that GWI was seeking to replace its archaic system, which in some areas, was over 100 years old.He noted that in some cases when there is an emergency, while there may be sufficient water to increase the pressure, the aged network posed as a threat since ruptures were created along the larger water lines. This results in additional work for employees to frequently fix the ruptures.During that encounter, he also noted that the improvement of services also included the introduction of hydrants in new housing communities as well as the rehabilitation of old hydrants in other communities. The implementation of 100 per cent metering is also one of the pending projects on the list, which can be fulfilled with the $500 increase.Moreover, in a vast swathe of Guyana, the upgrading of the water treatment provided is mandatory, since large sums are spent on the SeaQuest chemical, to reduce the iron content of water in Essequibo. Before the increase is confirmed by the PUC, there will be deliberations about the circumstances surrounding the situations which necessitate a hike in the rates. Consumer advocates have demanded that the water company submit financial statements before the proposal is reviewed.