Prepare alternative domestic supplies of energy and water
Our Readers' Opinions
June 11, 2024

Prepare alternative domestic supplies of energy and water

EDITOR: I was fortunate as an Emergency Communications First Responder, to be among decision makers [on] Thursday, May 30, 2024, as we looked at the “State of Readiness – Continuity of Government in the aftermath of a major hazard”, organized by NEMO, our National Emergency Management Organization. A well organized meeting.

That meeting revealed some serious lapses and I am certain that there will be some positive action in the near future as it relates to the connection of water tanks at schools which are designated emergency shelters. It was revealed by the Director of NEMO that since 2021, huge water tanks had been placed at several schools but were NEVER connected, so that when we experienced the recent shortage of water, some of these schools were forced to close for lack of water.

It is unfortunate that this announcement was made after the cameras recording the opening session were removed. However, two major concerns raised by participants were the waste of water due to leakage, and how that must be controlled, because statistics provided by CSWA showed how on average 1 million gallons of water goes unaccounted for on a daily basis. So 20% of the water CWSA supplies everyday is wasted or used by unmetered users.

Another participant raised the concern that we are surrounded by water, so why should we suffer from water rationing when portable desalination plants can be deployed at strategic locations to augment and supplement riverine sources of water during dry spells. That participant noted that Mustique is almost entirely dependent on desalinated water, projects that could be replicated in all the inhabited Grenadine islands using solar energy to offset overhead costs.

Developed countries in the Middle East also use desalinated water successfully. St. Maarten and Curacao nearby have been using desalinated water for the last 60 years without any destruction to the marine environment.

Grant funding for water projects is relatively easy to access as water in a BASIC human right, endorsed by the United Nations.

[On] Sunday evening, June 2, 2024, almost all of mainland St. Vincent except the Argyle International airport was thrown into a state and period of darkness caused by a “switchgear issue” according to an official release from VINLEC circulated online. Now the question arises, how does a switchgear function? And how can a switchgear malfunction impact the entire mainland except AIA and environs? I am not going to guess, but wait on VINLEC to explain how their ‘gear’ failed to ‘switch’ properly affecting almost every customer, with the exception of those who have back-up generators or renewable energy solutions.

Now all international airports MUST have their own generators that are independent of the national grid, but which are connected to the grid as a matter of protocol, which is absolutely necessary, especially when AIA is servicing their generators. So one can understand why AIA never lost power.

So nuff respect to the electrical maintenance staff at AIA. Now is also an opportune time to remind all householders that they must consider the use of renewable energy solutions, so that in times like these which are rare, but which can and will occur during the hurricane season, that you cannot be left in the dark- literally.

As radio operators, during the blackout, we were busy testing our emergency equipment as well as keeping in touch with each other should any emergency arise requiring an urgent response. Let me use this opportunity to call on all Vincentians to get some back up lights powered/recharged by solar or wind energy. So when your relatives sending barrels please ask them to send some solar lights so you cannot be left in the dark next time.

Donald De Riggs