April 16, 2021
Water – If we cooperate, we will manage together

ON THE RECENT occasion of World Water Day (March 22), we quoted from the English poet W H Auden as follows: “Thousands live without love, not one without water”.

It is a poignant reminder of the vital necessity of water for the sustenance of life, most appropriate in our current circumstances. Yet, this most essential ingredient of life is, in many parts of the world, including our own, where drought is not a daily threat to life, often taken for granted. The exception to this occurs when, as in our present situation, we cannot get easy access.

One of the ironies of life in volcano-affected St Vincent today is that we are overwhelmed with dust, increasing thirst and the absolute need for cleaning, yet water is not readily available. We are fortunate to have good public utility services especially water and electricity, but these can be, and are disrupted by natural disasters. Both have become victims to the effects of the volcanic eruptions.

As mentioned, now more than ever, we need water to allow us to cope with the current challenges. We need a clean supply for drinking and cooking, water for cleaning and for allowing life and production to continue, not at its customary level, but to ensure that the society continues to tick over.

The Central water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA) has a herculean task on its hands. In addition to the essential requirements mentioned here, there is the responsibility for garbage collection and disposal, even more critical on a day-to-day basis. The CWSA and its workers have to brave the conditions of our mountainous terrain which presents obstacles towards the maintenance of normal supplies and with the volcano threat, can be very hazardous.

A lot of sacrifice is involved in being able to sustain delivery, both to usual domestic and commercial customers as well as supplying the evacuation centres. These have been explained by CWSA officials including its CEO, Mr Garth Saunders. We need to pay heed to these.

A similar challenge confronts our electricity services, with the huge volcanic deposits affecting lines and forcing blackouts and forced shutdowns. There is also a dangerous offshoot of any electricity blackout, particularly at night. It relates to security, both on a personal as well as domestic and commercial scale. There are always criminal elements who seek to capitalize on every opportunity to commit crimes. We have had experiences of their operations in previous disasters and as we compliment our security services for their efforts in maintaining peace and security, we too should play our part in rendering them the support necessary.

The situation calls for patience and understanding. Yet we are sometimes frustrated, particularly when we are unable to get our essential requirements, but there is ample evidence that those responsible are doing their best at mitigation in the current circumstances. Our CARICOM neighbours, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, United States and many around the world, are also rendering invaluable support for which we are eternally grateful.

We too must play our part in avoiding waste, in not using precious water for non-essential purposes and in conservation and judicious use. If we cooperate, we will manage together.