By Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): In observance of World Water Day, celebrated annually on March 22, Minister with responsibility for Infrastructure and Utilities, Hon. Konris Maynard highlighted the fact that only one percent of water in the world can be used for drinking, hence humans survival depends heavily on how we utilise water, in light of climate change.
“Today, all we hear about is “ Climate Change. Is Climate Change real and is it a concern for us here in St.Kitts and Nevis? Again, the experts at the Water Services Department have indicated that over the past 10 years, we have seen at about an 18 percent decrease in the average annual rainfall. This is serious. While we cannot predict the future, we have to prepare for various scenarios including longer dry periods and shorter, more intense wet seasons. The bottom line is that, as the climate changes our availability of fresh water will change and hence, we have to adapt.”
In response to this global phenomena, Maynard said the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis will put in place the necessary investments so that the country can be more water resilient.
The growing threat of Climate Change means that rainfall patterns are changing and that sea levels are rising. Even though climatic changes are slow, they are nonetheless a real and serious threat. Our response to this threat must begin with the necessary investments to allow us to carefully monitor such climatic and environmental parameters. We are going to invest over 200 million over the next five to 10 years to build a resilient and sustainable water infrastructure. Water is too important for us to get it wrong.
Maynard added, “As I often say, because of our small size, it is easier for us to transform our sectors, than larger countries. Some of the investments in our water infrastructure will include the drilling of additional wells, investment in desalinated water, replacement and upgrading of pipelines, construction of new and expansion of existing storage reservoirs, the introduction of modern technology to improve efficiency and to optimise the use of our resources. Of course, we will also invest in our people and ensure that the institutional capacity and structure of the Water Services Department is also modernised.”
Like other countries of the world, St. Kitts and Nevis is experiencing significant water challenges. During his address to the nation in observance of World Water Day, Minister Maynard used the opportunity to remind citizens and residents of the importance of water conservation. He said the reliability of the water resource is not just a matter for the Government, but consumers too, as they have a role to play in ensuring that water is conserved.
“There are still hundreds of consumers who have leaks and refuse to address them. Most times, these leaks are due to faulty toilets for instance. As we embark on augmenting our water supplies with desalination, which is much more expensive than surface and groundwater, we cannot afford this level of wastage. Our message of conversation and the economical use of water becomes more urgent. In St.Kitts, only about 55 percent of the water which we produce becomes revenue. This is unacceptable. The Water Services Department would be focusing on ensuring that every connection to the water distribution system is metered and that all customers are paying their bills. We will always make provision of course for those who have special socio-economic challenges.”
The theme for this year’s observance of World Water Day is “Accelerating Change”