Hon. Spencer Brand, Minister responsible for Water Services in the Nevis Island Administration, delivered the following address as Nevis joined the rest of the world in observing World Water Day Sunday.
Greetings to you on this World Water Day 2020,
As we turn the page once more for the year 2020, we have come to an important point in our journey where we can pause and reflect on where we are in terms of achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number six, that is, “to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” or “clean water and sanitation” for short.
More specifically we must ponder on the UN World Water Day theme for World Water Day, 22 March, 2020, of “Water and Climate Change”.
Water is inextricably linked to climate change, and climate change can undoubtedly impact the availability, supply, access and the sustainability of our water resources. Similarly, without an adequate supply of water the climate can be negatively impacted; and life and the security of our planet as we know it would be compromised.
We in the Caribbean are well aware, and have witnessed the destructive powers of stronger, more ferocious and frequent storms and hurricanes such as Irma, Maria and Dorian in recent years, and their severe impact on life, property and our water infrastructure.
Moreover, longer periods of drought due to the fall out of climate change have been plaguing the region, resulting in water shortages and rationing as we navigate through these difficult times.
I am happy to report on this World Water Day that the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) through the Ministry of Water Services, has been responding to these challenges in a meaningful way working with local and regional partners.
Currently the Nevis Water Department (NWD) and our newly established Water Resource Management Unit are working together to bring an additional 330,000 gallons of potable water per day in the Charlestown area, through the installation of a water filtration or treatment plant at Hamilton Estate.
This project includes developing an abandoned well (with high manganese and iron minerals), the procurement and construction of an Aquastore Glass Fused Water Reservoir of 400,000 imperial gallons, the refurbishment of the old 1904, 300,000 gallon water reservoir at the site, and the installation and commissioning of a modern water treatment system.
This project is jointly funded by the Caricom [Caribbean Community] Development Fund and the NIA [Nevis Island Administration].
In addition, we are actively negotiating and seeking funding for a water drilling programme to put additional sources of ground water into our water system.
The NIA is also part of a United Arab Emirates funded solar water desalination project which, if successful, should add another 55,000 gallons of water per day using solar energy alone. If we make it a hybrid system by using a combination of traditional power and renewable energy we may be able to achieve a total of 110,000 gallons per day.
Furthermore, to increase our non-potable water supply for the Four Seasons Resort and the soon to come Pinney’s Park, we intend to expand the Pinney’s Trench Well which would provide an additional amount of brackish water from its current capacity of 140,000 imperial gallons per day, to water the golf course and the park.
However, the NIA is just one stakeholder in the journey towards increasing water supply and responding and mitigating the negative impact of climate change.
We continue to admonish all stakeholders including the residence and people of Nevis, the businesses and various institutions to continue to practice water conservation activities such as checking for leakages on your premises, using water efficient appliances, engaging in rain water harvesting, washing cars only when necessary etc. We are all in this together.
Climate change affects all of us and we all need water for survival. This has been made even more meaningful in recent weeks and days as the health experts have informed us that one of the major preventative measures to stem the spread of infection of the coronavirus or COVID -19 virus, is the washing of hands regularly. Water is indeed a public good.
We also seek the cooperation of all in ensuring that water bills are paid on time as it takes financial resources to implement all the measures to maintain our water system, and to invest in projects and programmes to increase water supply, educate the public and to adapt to climate change.
Moreover we are seeking your cooperation in helping us to manage and protect our watershed areas and wetland as these are integral in preserving our environment, eco-system and water resources.
The NIA has two trained Park Rangers employed to assist in managing the Nevis National Park and the Camps River Ghaut and wetlands. These officers would be housed shortly at the newly constructed Interpretation Centre building at Hardtimes Gingerland, funded jointly by UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] and the NIA under the St. Kitts and Nevis Biodiversity Project.
Moreover, in this fight against the negative impact of climate change and as a means to educate the general public, the NIA through the Water Resource Management Unit will shortly be providing regular water reports through various media outlets or platforms on water conservation tips and general information as to what is happening in the water sector.
We hope that this initiative will help bring some level of awareness, education, and ultimately a change in thinking and behaviour in our island in relation to the water sector. It was Phil Mcgraw who stated that ‘awareness without action is worthless’.
The Water Resource Management Unit has started working with faith based groups and the Nevis Disaster Management Department (NDMD) in providing useful information on water resources, and this Unit is very much part of our Ministry team as we implement the projects and programmes in the water sector.
To borrow a quotation from the website worldwaterday.org/2020 in commenting on the theme Water and Climate Change: What do we mean, it states:
‘Climate delay is almost as dangerous as climate denial. Every country in the world must work more quickly. Extreme weather events are making water more scarce, more unpredictable, more polluted or all three. Humans need water to survive, as do all the systems we rely on: sanitation, healthcare, education, business and industry. Action plans to tackle climate change need to be integrated across different sectors and coordinated across borders. And they must have one thing in common: safe and sustainable water management.’
I could not agree more with this quotation. Hence on this World Water Day let us move forward with perfect 2020 vision to secure our communities, our island, our Caribbean and indeed our world by working together to ensure we benefit from the synergies between water and climate change, and adapt and overcome the challenges we are facing in the water sector from the impact of climate change. Let us do more together and bring others along on this journey to achieve sustainable water management for all.
Have an enjoyable World Water Day 2020.
Thank you, and God bless.