Caribbean water deficits
By Garth SaunderSs
CEO of the Central Water and Sewerage Authority-CWSA
At least four eastern Caribbean territories are currently feeling the effects of the current dry spell and are reporting significant water deficits. The St. Lucia Water and Sewerage Company, WASCO, has already commenced water rationing in the Southern Choiseul district and, according to their media platform, has also had to resort to trucking water to customers in the affected villages.
In St.Vincent, the negative effects of the lack of rainfall and significantly reduced river flows have been further aggravated by the loss of four Red Zone water systems in the aftermath of the eruption of La Soufriere volcano, and the increasing demand now assigned to the remaining eight water sources as a result of the relocation of 15,000 evacuees
to the Green Zone. This has resulted in daily planned interruptions on the Montreal and Dalaway systems affecting several villages in the southern part of the island from Southwest to Southeast.
Meanwhile in Grenada, the National Water and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA) has had to embark upon nightly water rationing on the Munich and Mardi Gras water systems and daytime and nightly interruptions on the Petit Etang water system.
According to the NAWASA Facebook page, the current situation is likely to change without notice, and it has sought to remind its consumers about their personal responsibility to store appropriate quantities of water.
In Barbados, the Government there in an unprecedented move, recently signalled some urgent intent when it announced that the island’s water deficit would now have to be made up by the importation of water from both Guyana and Dominica.
Barbados, like St. Vincent, was hit by the confluence of increasing water demand, consequent upon the volcanic ashfall coming in the middle of the dry season. This was made worse by the already chronic water shortages in the northern
part of the island occasioned by a temporarily decommissioned desalination plant in St. Lucy.
All of these situations come on the heels of the historic regional drought last year that produced water supply deficits and rationing in many Caribbean island nations, including Jamaica, “the land of wood and water” and Dominica, “the land of many rivers”The increasing frequency of what are clearly climate change related natural events in the sub-region, and the adverse impact on economies, housing, and potable water availability must certainly bring to the fore the need for Caribbean Governments and people to recalibrate their development agenda, including its water supply plans and metrics.
This approach must necessarily involve building resilience by utilizing a combination of available water source options, regardless of cost.
These water supply deficits and the resulting inconveniences to customers, will now unmistakably establish the true value of water and the need for water utilities to invest more in achieving the water security now being demanded by customers.
There is no shortage of options for safe water sources; what must now be established is the willingness of customers to pay the additional monthly sums needed to reduce these water supply deficits, and to allow utilities to recover all their
associated investment costs.