NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (March 21, 2018) — The following is an address by Hon. Spencer Brand, Minister in the Ministry of Water Services in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) for the observance of World Water Day. The theme is “Nature for Water.”
I greet you on this 22nd day of March which has been designated as World Water Day.
It is a day set aside when we in the water services sector pause and reflect on certain issues affecting the world and in particular Small Island Developing states such as Nevis in terms of the accessibility and use of clean water and sanitation.
World Water Day is coordinated by UN-Water, the United Nation’s (UN) inter-agency collaboration mechanism for all freshwater related issues, in collaboration with governments and partners.
As the Minister with responsibility for water services, I could not resist weighing in on the theme for the celebration “Nature for Water”. This year’s theme implies that there is a strong nexus between the environment and the quality and quantity of water that is available in any population.
According to the Inter Press Agency, “Today, there are over 663 million people living without a safe water supply close to home, spending countless hours queuing or trekking to distant sources, and coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water.” We on the island of Nevis, are blessed to have clean water in our homes and to have 98 percent accessibility to clean water from the Nevis Island Administration’s (NIA) water supply system.
The NIA, has been making significant investments in the water sector to upgrade the distribution system as is evident in the ongoing Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)-funded Nevis Water Supply Enhancement Project.
This EC$29.6 million investment in the project will come to an end in 2018 and will ensure that the island has an upgraded transmission and distribution system, larger and upgraded reservoirs, upgraded pump stations, chlorination system, and the implementation of a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) System.
On the supply side, we continue to work with BEAD LLC to explore for more water to put into this enhanced system and to take over the two water wells from the company in July 2018, when their contract with the NIA comes to an end.
Even though 90 percent of our water comes from wells, we must be cognisant of the fact that the sustainability of our ecosystem is crucial in ensuring that our wells are adequately replenished and that we continue to produce water from these sources for many years to come.
The NIA, will take an important step in the very near future to designate the Nevis Peak and the Camps River Ghaut as environmental protected areas. There are several advantages of taking this step including but not limited to:
Sustain the productivity and health of critical ecosystems, which support key economic sectors, including agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism
Provide places and opportunities for outdoor recreation and enjoyment
Contribute to the maintenance of the nation’s water supply by providing effective watershed management
Conserve critical habitats necessary for the maintenance of animal and plant species and
Conserve representative elements of natural and cultural heritage
We will continue to support and work with other stakeholders who are taking steps to protect “nature for water” such as planting trees or reforestation, monitoring and controlling activities that negatively impact the ecosystem which affect our rainfall pattern and eventually our precious water resources.
Climate change and environmental damage are two forces that are creating water related crisis throughout the world. Prolong droughts, frequent flooding and water contamination are made worst by degraded soil, vegetation and ravines.
The citizens and residents of Nevis can help us to help ourselves by being the police men and women for our environment. Let us work together to protect our environment, to adapt to climate change and to conserve and be smart about the use of water.
Small steps such as spending less time in the shower, using a container when brushing teeth, checking for and stopping leaks, washing your cars less frequently and using a bucket instead of a hose and washing larger loads of clothing are just a few of the activities that every household can take to help conserve water, especially at this time as we go through a dry season.
In addition, water conservation activities by households will reduce your spending, especially in light of the decision that the NIA made to increase water rates by 30 percent on April 02 2018, to fulfil our CDB loan obligations. It is my understanding that water rates have not been adjusted on Nevis for 32 years.
Based on the projects, programmes and activities implemented so far and our agenda in improving water resource management and the water services, we can safely state that the NIA is well on its way to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 – ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030.
I take this opportunity to thank and commend the Nevis Water Department, the Ministry of Water Services and allied agencies for their dedication and commitment over the years in providing services in the water sector on Nevis.
I want to thank the people of Nevis for their support, patience and cooperation over the years as we improve the water system on Nevis and take steps to ensure the sustainability of our water resources.
Happy World Water Day to all and may God bless you.