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Drought conditions force Nevis Water Department to shut down supply; Nevis Premier says NIA will drill new wells

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by Eulana Weekes

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Drought, water mismanagement, and overconsumption have led to water shortages on the island of Nevis.

On May 18, the Nevis Water Department notified the public that the water supply “will likely be shut off in all areas of the island as of Thursday, May 18, 2023, until further notice.”

The statement from the department said that restoration efforts have begun to restore water levels in the tanks.

The water department attributes the issue to the drought the island has been experiencing due to the drop in rainfall for the past few months.

The department’s water supply is currently low, and to restore the water levels, the supply will be shut down until further notice.

During the Wednesday, May 17 edition of  “On the Mark’, Premier of Nevis, Hon. Mark Brantley, shared that a water rationing system would have been implemented before the water department’s notice to address the ongoing water situation. He said there has not been enough rain to replenish the wells at an adequate rate.

“We have unfortunately had to go to a situation of water rationing because our experts are telling us that our wells are not recharging at the rate that we would like. That, I think, is a very dangerous sign for us, and it’s something that we as a government are grappling with because it means that we are extracting water at too rapid a rate from our aquifers, not giving the aquifer sufficient time to recharge. Yes,  through the grace of God, we’ve had some rain, but our bulk of our water is still supplied through our wells,” said the Premier.

Brantley also disclosed that the Four Seasons Resort is still booming with tourism activity, which is uncommon at this time of year, and as such, a large amount of water is being used there.

“We’re also being impacted by the fact that the Four Seasons Resort, which at this time of year normally would be slowing down, is showing no signs of slowing down just yet. Just yesterday (May 16), I was told that the occupancy was well over 70%  which in May is unheard of; and I am told that they have pretty significant business up until July. What that means is that, of course, that resort which is a large off-taker of water, that they continue to consume a considerable amount of water as well, and we are having to balance that as we go into this period of dry season if you will, that we’ve been experiencing lately, that we have to balance that in terms of the demand,” Brantley stated.

The water situation has affected domestic users in different ways. Some residents have been complaining that they have had no running water for days, which has prevented them from carrying out basic hygienic practices.

Brantley added, “We are apologetic, and I want to use this rostrum to apologise to the people who have been inconvenienced, but we have introduced the rationing of water. We have said from 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. in certain areas. The Water Department has been putting out their notices. We’re discussing now whether it is possible to move that  from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., but that is a decision that the experts will take, but we’re asking you to bear with us.”

However, the Premier of Nevis encouraged citizens and residents to contribute to water-saving measures and to use water efficiently in their day-to-day living.

“We are trying to resolve these issues and solve this problem, but as part of that, we’re also asking that you conserve water; that you don’t use water to wash your car or water your lawn, but you try to conserve water as much as possible; and for those who can harvest water, that is, rain water, that you do so as well. So those with their cisterns etc., that you  do that and that you can use your cisterns when of course, we are having a difficulty to provide some relief.”

Meanwhile, Brantley explained that the Nevis Island Administration is seeking alternatives to rectify the water issue, including drilling new wells.

“We have therefore decided that we have no choice; we must embark on the drilling of some new wells. We had invested with a company called BEAD some years ago. We paid them a substantial down payment to drill some new wells. BEAD did not deliver, and so we are hoping now that we can find alternatives to see how we can drill some new wells, particularly as we get ready for the Geothermal  Project, which will require a substantial amount of water during the drilling phase.”

The people of Nevis would now have to rely on their cisterns and other private means of securing water.

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