NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (MARCH 22, 2022) — The following is an address by Hon. Spencer Brand, Minister of Water Services in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) for the observance of World Water Day 2022.
Greetings to all the citizens and residents at home and abroad,
I am pleased once again to wish all a Happy World Water Day 2022. I address you on the theme “Groundwater – making the invisible visible” as declared by the United Nations.
This theme hits home as, on an average, 95 percent of our water sources come from groundwater when compared to our other sources.
Your government understands there are several popular sources of water for consumption by the population in any country such as groundwater through drilling of water wells; springs; desalination, which involves treating seawater, direct rainfall, and surface water to name a few.
Over the years we have been focusing on groundwater production and development, and on optimising our capability in this area. It has worked well for us so far as it is cheaper to produce than desalination, for example.
In addition, unlike some islands in the Caribbean, we do not have rivers to dam and treat surface water for consumption. Therefore, we will continue to seek additional sources of water from the ground through our long-established drilling programme, which has been hampered over the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of financial resources to continue this programme.
I am happy that there are signs that are showing that the impact of the COVID pandemic is waning and stabilising, at least for St. Kitts and Nevis.
It is our general philosophy that we cannot have enough water as water is an essential public good that is necessary for life, good health, and the sustainable development of our economy.
In terms of some data, according to the International Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC), groundwater provides about 40 percent of water for irrigated agriculture worldwide and about 1/3 of the water required for industry.
In Nevis for the year 2021, the usage of groundwater for irrigation purposes accounted for about 2.02 percent of our water production. We anticipate that the needs of the agricultural sector will continue to grow and put pressure on our water resource.
Our current water well capacity is 2.1 million imperial gallons per day, with 95 percent of our total water sources coming from groundwater (wells); and 4.12 per cent from other sources broken down as follows: Rawlins Source 1.58 percent, New River 0.46 percent and Camps Spring 2.08 percent.
The Nevis Island Administration (NIA), my Ministry and the Nevis Water Department are doing our part in keeping what is “invisible visible,” by ensuring that when you turn on your tap, water flows out with good quality and reliable pressure. Hence, it behoves all of us to pay attention to our water usage by practising water conservation activities and paying our water bills on time and on a consistent basis. The production of water on Nevis is still subsidised by the NIA.
It is an accepted fact that you cannot survive and live without water. It is a partnership between the government and people on Nevis to ensure that our water resource remains sustainable.
What happened in our mountains and hills are as important as what happened on our coastline and in our houses, villages, parishes and towns. Your activities can deplete and even contaminate our groundwater aquifer. It is important then that the residents on Nevis follow our laws and regulations when it comes to activities such as construction, especially in the area of waste disposal and the construction or establishment of sewage systems for your homes, farms, institutions and business places.
The improper construction and management of a sewage system, for example, can contaminate and harm our water resources. Moreover, you can practise rainwater harvesting by storing water via building a cistern during the construction of your home, institution or business place; or establish some form of water storage system which would reduce the strain on our limited groundwater supply.
Let us keep the “invisible visible” and available for our use for a long time to come.
Your government has already taken steps to increase our storage capacity on Nevis, practically in all parishes in Nevis.
We recently procured a Florida Aquastore glassed fused 250,000-gallon storage tank which is on island already. We have started the groundwork for its installation at Pond Hill or Zetlands, in Gingerland. This will replace the current leaking fiberglass tank.
This new tank will increase our water storage capacity by 70,000 gallons. The installation was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are almost there. You will see activities at Zetlands in the near future as we continue our water storage programme which will store water obtained from one of our larger water wells at Fothergills Estate. The invisible water will become visible in this modern water storage tank. And it is done for all the residents on Nevis. We are leading by example.
Fellow residents on Nevis, if you work conscientiously with us, we can achieve our integrated water resource management objectives which include:
- To ensure the long-term sustainability of Nevis’ water resources for the benefit of all;
- To ensure the availability of potable water 24/7 in a cost-effective and efficient manner;
- To implement measures to protect the quality of water resources;
- To minimise and protect against water crises, whether caused naturally or man-made;
- To promote the adoption of integrated water resource management and
- To foster joint ownership amongst various government sectors and the people of Nevis in managing the country’s water resources.
As I end, I want to pause and recognise the important work and service of another fallen water hero in Mr. Jerome Pinney who passed away in February 2022.
Mr. Pinney has contributed significantly to the production and development of our water resources from ground water through leading various drilling programmes in St. Kitts and Nevis in the 1980s and 1990s.
He worked with and trained our Nevis water production team from 2008 until his retirement in 2018 while employed by the NIA.
We salute him and thank his family for lending this giant of a man that laid the foundation for our water drilling programme that is still ongoing today.
I pause also to recognise the workers who retired in 2021 from my Ministry and the Nevis Water Department, specifically those who would have worked long and hard in the water sector. Best wishes on your retirement and we say thank you for your unselfish service to the development of Nevis.
Finally, I want to pause once more to say a hearty thank you to the management and staff of the Nevis Water Department and the Water Resource Management Unit for their continued yeoman service in the production and distribution of water, the upkeep and maintenance of our water system on Nevis and the protection of our water resource, respectively.
We do not take you and your work for granted. As you celebrate World Water Day 2022 with your colleagues on St. Kitts, in engaging in healthy sporting competitions, awareness programmes and activities including appearing on VON Radio’s popular “Let’s Talk” programme, continue to remain steadfast in your duties and service to humanity.
Best wishes again to all on this World Water Day 2022.
Thank you and God bless.