CWSA bracing for prolonged drought
A river that feeds the Dalaway water system
May 17, 2024

CWSA bracing for prolonged drought

Despite anticipated rainfall within the next two weeks, the Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA), is bracing for prolonged drought and ongoing pressures in its supply of water to consumers.

And, General Manager of the Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA), Winsbert Quow is urging the public to conserve water to help cope with the ongoing programme of rationing.

From Left: Marco Audain , Winsbert Quow and Joan Ryan

“We need Vincentians to change the way they use water, particularly in the dry season,” Quow said at a press conference of the CWSA on Tuesday, May 14,2024. He pointed out that despite the current shortages, water consumption patterns have not changed much.

In March, prior to implementation of the system of rationing, there was an average of 2.5 million gallons of water being consumed daily, and in May, with rationing of the commodity in place, consumption is still substantial at 2.2 million gallons per day as of May 11.

During the dry season there is an increased demand for water for purposes the CWSA has labelled ‘non-essential. Among these is the washing of vehicles and lawn maintenance, prompting Quow to appeal for more responsible use of the precious commodity.

“Yesterday I was driving home and I saw someone using a hose in the public to wash their SUV. Our legislation gives us the authority to take measures to reduce the wastage of water if we see that occurring.”

He emphasised the likelihood of disconnections for excessive use, adding that persons will first be given a warning, “but if the practice continues, we may have to take measures to restrict your supply in the interest of the public good”.

The CWSA team at the press conference explained that last Friday, May 10, 2024, the situation became critical and the water supply was therefore cut for several communities the following day. It was not restored until Monday May 13.

Public Relations and Marketing Manager, Joan Ryan speaking to this issue said, “We would love to be able to do things the way that our customers want them done so that they can receive the water at their convenience, but it is not going to be possible, not within this kind of critical condition that we are going through”.

She said because of the challenges faced, a continuous supply to consumers cannot be guaranteed, and the CWSA is asking for vigilance among consumers.

“We are asking persons in higher elevations, to report to us immediately….If we say to you that your water is going to be returned to you 5:00 a.m the following day, if by six there is no water let us know so that we can put systems in place to ensure you receive water.”

Ryan explained that their task is not easy and they have to operate within a best case scenario. “You have to see the river, you have to see what we are working with to understand the severity of the issue.”

The CWSA instituted a system of rationing on April 2, 2024 for consumers on the Montreal supply.

Rationing for consumers on the Dalaway system started on April 12, and expanded nightly from April 19,2024.

On Monday May 13, 2024, the CWSA released a notice informing the public that five water supply systems were now listed as critical. They are: Montreal, Majorca, John Hill, Mamoon and Dalaway.

Senior Engineer, Marco Audain emphasised that there are widespread water challenges affecting numerous communities. These issues have been intensified by a significant decrease in rainfall, rising temperatures and declining stream flows since January, reflecting the broader impacts of climate change on water resources.

Quow encouraged customers facing delays to contact the CWSA directly. He also highlighted the authority’s past experience in managing droughts.

Data provided by the SVG Met Services of annual rainfall between 2019 – 2023 shows that there was an increase of 17% inches of rain in 2021, and then rainfall has increased by 0.44% in 2022 and 0.58% in 2023.

The data also shows that between 2019 and 2020, there was a decrease of rainfall (inches) by 1.52%, while last year, 2023, the month of September had one of the lowest recorded rainfall, that month being 69% lower than September 2022. October and November 2023 also saw lower than usual rainfall when compared to the previous year, 2022.