Water Services Manager Updates NEOC on Drought Situation in St. Kitts

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Cromwell Williams , Manager/Water Engineer for the St. Kitts Water Services Department.

Good day Citizens and residents of St. Kitts and Nevis.  My name is Cromwell Williams and I am the Manager/Water Engineer for the St. Kitts Water Services Department.

Today I have requested the kind permission of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to be here to address you; because, while we are all aware of and are focused on the COVID-19 Pandemic, 99% of us are unaware that we are facing another Emergency.  I speak of the Unavailability or Scarcity of Water due to the current Drought Conditions or prolonged lack of rainfall.

Data obtained from the Met Services indicates that for Jan-April 2021 we received 6.2 inches of rainfall.  Last year for the same period we received twice that amount, 12 inches.  The normal average for this period is 15 inches.  May is almost finished and we have had 0.6 inches of rain for the month so far.  Normally May brings a break in the dry season with about 4 to 5 inches of rain.  By all standards this is a serious dry season.

It’s not only St. Kitts.  The Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum of the CIMH has recommended that a “Drought Warning” be issued for St. Kitts and Antigua.

Let me make it abundantly clear my fellow citizens that ALL of our water in St. Kitts comes from rain.  So, this significant drop off in rainfall means less water from our Sources.  At the Water Services Department we understand that it is our mandate to develop adequate water supplies to meet the needs of a rapidly developing country. Indeed, we have come a long way in this regard over the past two to three decades.  We have drilled wells all over the island; we currently have almost thirty (30) wells in operation producing about 5 million gallons per day.

Our strategy to meet future demands for water was always well planned out.  We would continue to drill additional wells and eventually we would have to turn to desalination to augment our supplies.  Desalination, which is the conversion of seawater into drinking water, is a last resort as it is at least twice as expensive as our normal sources of water (it uses a lot of electricity) and we know that electricity is not cheap.  Unfortunately, over the past few years we did experience some setbacks in our well-drilling program, but we are back on track as the government would have signed a contract with BEAD to rehabilitate a well in Shadwell and to drill new wells in the Cayon Area in the first instance.  This dry season has opened our eyes to the reality of CLIMATE Variability and hence we can no longer delay our turning to desalination to augment our public water supply.

Once the rain starts falling (hopefully by July-August) we would have adequate supplies.  And had it been less dry, we would have had adequate supplies at this time.  However, what we are seeing currently is far below normal rainfall.  We have already resorted to trucking water to some areas.  Let us remember that we do not make water; we capture it and distribute it, and there are limitations. 

So today I am appealing to all of us to come to the awakening that we are in a drought and we cannot continue to use water as we normally do.

Let me pre-empt those who would say that the WSD is the biggest waster of water because it seems that we sometimes take an inordinate length of time to address leaks etc; yes we do have limited resources and hence sometimes our response time might not be what it ought to be.  However, this in no way justifies you not being willing and diligent in playing your part to conserve what little water we have.

What we desperately need in St. Kitts is a PARADIGM SHIFT when it comes to water; a whole new mindset.  With all the developments that have taken place; and are taking place, we can no longer see St. Kitts as a place that has a lot of water and where water is cheap and can be wasted without consequence.  We must see St. Kitts as a place, yes where the Government is prepared to subsidize the cost of water to ensure that the ordinary man can afford to pay for enough water for his health and hygiene; but persons who want to fill their swimming pools and have their grass green even during this dry season, must pay the true cost of providing the service.

In fact, I must say this…perhaps the most significant deterrent to this paradigm shift; to our customers taking water conservation seriously, is because water is so cheap.  People do not value what comes cheap or easy!

So, as we go through the remainder of this extreme dry season and even all year round, I am beseeching you to conserve water.  Show your Love for your neighbor by using less water!

(1)        Check your toilets and your premises for any leaks and have them repaired immediately

(2)        Report any suspected leaks to the Water Services Department (467-1005/1447)

(3)        Do not water lawns

(4)        Do not use hoses to wash vehicles and buildings; use a bucket

(5)        Re-use your rinse water to water your garden.

(6)        Generally, monitor your use of water and be as conservative as practicable.

The co-operation of all is greatly appreciated.

Thank you.


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