Nevis government pursues new wells, desalination in the face of prolonged regional drought

Hon. Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis says the Nevis Island Administration will drill new wells to alleviate water shortage issues (May 30, 2023)


NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (June 01, 2023) – As the long term drought situation continues across the region, the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) is assuring residents that it is actively pursuing measures that would bolster the water supply on Nevis. 

“We have determined that we need additional water, and to that end, the Cabinet has given instructions that we aggressively pursue the drilling of some additional wells,” Premier of Nevis, Hon. Mark Brantley, informed during his monthly press conference on Tuesday, May 30.

Low levels of rainfall has forced the Nevis Water Department to implement water rationing in several areas across the island, however recently a slight increase in showers has helped to alleviate the problem temporarily.

Premier Brantley said drilling addition wells would increase the supply of water available to satisfy the growing residential and commercial demand.

“We’ve already identified the areas; it’s just now to get the wells done. As I indicated publicly before, we had made a commitment to have an additional three wells done at a global cost of EC $10 million back in 2017. In fact, it was August of 2017 that we paid just over EC $2 million to a company called BEAD [LLC] as a down payment. BEAD has never come to do the work for the government, and so we don’t have our two million dollars and we don’t have any wells. We have decided to take legal action against BEAD- that is ongoing, but we continue to pursue other avenues to resolve that dispute and that difficulty.

“So it has not been for want of trying in relation to water. In fact as you know this government invested in a water treatment facility in Hamilton, which was able to give us an additional 300,000 gallons a day in terms of our water supply, unfortunately that has proven not to be enough. We continue to pray for rain and we hope we will be able to bring some longer lasting relief in terms of our well drilling campaign.”

He further explained that with major hotels reporting robust demand during what would traditionally be a period of low occupancy, this is putting additional stress on the water supply. 

The NIA is also undertaking desalination as means of providing more water to the populace and works to construct a plant in the Butlers area has already started. The plant is part of a pilot project for St. Kitts and Nevis, which the Honourable Brantley negotiated with the government of the United Arab Emirates when he served as Foreign Minister.

The desalination plant will be solar powered to alleviate the high maintenance cost associated with using electricity as the means of power.

“Desalination would be the perfect solution for water bearing in mind that we’re surrounded by ocean. The problem with desalination is it’s incredibly high maintenance and then the cost of electricity renders the process very expensive. We’ve had at least two proposals to the government for private companies to come in and do desalination. Let me just say to the Nevisian public that if we went in that direction, the cost of water would have to be multiplied times five in order for us just to be able to pay. 
“So we are not quite ready to take that leap until such time that we can get geothermal onboard and have cheaper energy, which then desalination becomes the perfect solution. So in the meantime we hope to drill some wells.”

The Premier reiterated the call for conservation and sensible use of the scarce resource. 

“The water in Nevis is very cheap and I think that as a result, where people would make sure to turn off their lights, turn off their AC [air conditioning], don’t let it run all day, people have leaks and leaky faucets and toilets, they let run all day and all night because water is so cheap. So this is something that we will be looking at because we want people to pay attention that water is a critical resource.”

The NIA has recently installed several industrial water storage tanks across the island. This increased storage capacity provides additional supply to the island’s water distribution system.

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