Director of the Department of Public Works Cromwell Williams (at the podium) making his presentation at the Community Forum on the construction of the new Basseterre High School.

Director of the Department of Public Works Cromwell Williams (at the podium) making his presentation at the Community Forum on the construction of the new Basseterre High School.

The site of the new Basseterre High School in Ponds Estate is at least 1,000 feet downstream of the closest well in an area of the Basseterre Valley which has never been used for potable water extraction, and as a result does not pose a threat or danger to potable water supply according to the Director, Department of Public Works Cromwell Williams.

The University College of London trained Hydrogeologist, the holder of a Master of Science in Hydrogeology, who was one of the six panellists making scientific presentations at the Ministry of Education’s presented Community Forum on the construction of the state-of-the art Basseterre High School on Wednesday evening May 29 further stated that the aquifer at the site is so thin it would be uneconomical to operate a well.

According to Williams, as part of the fulfilment for his Master’s degree at the University College of London (1998-1999), his thesis was on the Basseterre Valley Aquifer. “My research included a literary review (I have read Dr Christmas PhD Thesis from cover to cover). I collected water samples from all of the wells in the Basseterre Valley. I took them back with me to the University College of London lab where they were analysed using the most modern technology at the time,” Williams said. 

The well attended community forum was held at the Tucker Clarke Primary School in East Basseterre and among those in attendance included Prime Minister and Minister of Sustainable Development Dr the Hon Timothy Harris, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Shawn Richards, and the Area Parliamentary Representative and Minister of Public Infrastructure Ian Patches Liburd.

Also in attendance included Senior Minister and Minister of Labour Vance Amory, the Minister of Agriculture, Community Development, Gender Affairs and Social Services et al Eugene Hamilton, Attorney General Vincent Byron, Minister of State for Health Wendy Phipps, Principal of the Basseterre High School Maurice Benjamin, and Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Tourism and former Principal of the Basseterre High School Carlene Henry-Morton.

“Having studied in depth the characteristics of the Basseterre Valley Aquifer including over 30 years of data, I dare to say that I can speak with authority and accurateness on the subject of the Basseterre Valley Aquifer,” said Williams. “Therefore, when I advised the government that the siting of the new Basseterre High School at the said location at Ponds Estate does not pose a threat or danger to our potable water supply, I did so without any reservation or doubt.”

 

The Director, Department of Public Works, noted that in the report that was submitted to the Cabinet, it was advised that the location of the Ponds Estate Site is at least 1,000 feet downstream of the closest well, and in an area of the Basseterre Valley which was never used for potable water extraction and is very unlikely to be used for potable water extraction. He added that coupled with the use of modern wastewater treatment technology, this site does not represent a danger to the potable water supply.  

“There are no potable water wells in the immediate vicinity of the proposed site and there aren’t likely to be and dug in the future – why?” Williams gave the answer: “That is because the further we go south towards the coastline, the thinner the freshwater lens (aquifer) and hence it becomes impractical (uneconomical) to operate a well that might give 20 gal/min or less. To get a high yielding well requires a certain thickness of aquifer which you would not find on the southern extremities such as the location of the proposed site.”

 

The six-person panel of experts was chaired by William Vincent Hodge, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education. Other panellists included Chairman Innotech Services (St. Kitts) Ltd Anthony De Silva, Water Engineer Halla Sahely, Senior Principal Stantec Caribbean Andrew Hutchinson, Director of Development Control Planning Board Randolph Edmead, and D&B Project Manager Innotech Services (St. Kitts) Ltd Ian Rogers.