St. Lucia’s drought struggle continues

St. Lucia continues to be seriously affected by severe water shortages by a drought which started earlier in the year.

Communications and Public Relations Officer of St. Lucia’s Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) - Dave Anthony Charles

Communications and Public Relations Officer of St. Lucia’s Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) – Dave Anthony Charles

Speaking with THE NEW TODAY newspaper in an exclusive interview last week Friday, Communications and Public Relations Officer of the St. Lucia Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO), Dave Anthony Charles said although the country has been experiencing plenty rainfall throughout the years, this was not the case in 2015.

“Coming into 2015 the water available for distribution has been significantly diminished,” he said, leaving the island’s lone water supply company with no choice but to put contingency measures in place, including testing the quality of water from new river sources, valve schedule implementation and water rationing in the various communities.

As recent as last week, St. Lucia’s water challenges got more complex forcing WASCO to shut down its supply to the entire northern part of the island, which is serviced by the John Compton Dam as part of efforts to curb the effects of the ongoing drought situation.

Charles told this newspaper that the most recent water challenge came as a result of drastic water lost at the dam, caused during a WASCO exercise conducted last week Wednesday to flush and install a 10” Valve to accommodate a dual level pump in an effort to curb the effects of the drought situation.

“Two pumps – (one at the top and one at the bottom) were utilised after completion of work last night…we cut off the water Wednesday (June 17, 2015) to erect a pump tune (a small bolt on the reservoir) and a pump…” to “feed water into the channel and into the treatment plant,” he said.

“The problem is that the bottom is covered with silt so we can’t get
water from there and as the water level decreases we loose access to it because the top pump can’t get the water. So we had to erect an under pump tune to pull water from the bottom up into the top port so that we could actually send water out to the population,” he added.

According to Charles, although the situation was rectified and water was turned back on since last week Thursday night, WASCO is “still rationing” the supply of water to its customers, “which means that we are serving a community twice a week.

He pointed out that the rationing of water at this time is “critical” as the “MET (Meteorological) office indicated that this “drought system” being experienced “would go straight through September.”

Charles said this is the first time St. Lucia is experiencing such severe water challenges since 2001, and also spoke of plans to conduct a rainwater-harvesting project to come on stream soon with funding from the World Bank.

Charles was one of more than 44 participants at an Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) two-day Symposium on Climate Change held at the St. Kitts Marriot Resort and Royal Beach Casino situated at Frigate Bay, St. Kitts last week Thursday and Friday.

Grenada was represented by Nisha Paul from THE NEW TODAY newspaper, Brenda Baptiste – Grenada Broadcasting Network (GBN), Dillon Palmer Head of the Forestry Division within the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, and Project Manager in the Environment Division – Kerricia Hobson.

The Symposium brought together a selection of more than 44 communication officers from various government ministries with responsibility for communicating climate change information along with representatives from media houses across the region under a five-year Reduce Risks to Human & Natural Assets Resulting from Climate Change (RRACC) project, which came on stream in 2011, with funding from the USAID.

The RRAAC, which is expected to conclude this September, addresses high priority vulnerabilities projects in sectors that are key to the region’s development and economic growth, while identifying specific interventions that could contribute to greater resilience in the Eastern Caribbean.

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