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Again we ask, just who is paying attention?

Some time ago, The Grenadian Voice newspaper featured in an editorial, some concerns raised by an official on managing or the lack there of, of our natural water resources most likely to avoid what we are going through now. This week we thought it prudent to revisit the issue as the present drought upon us is forcing people to dissect the real cause. There are people who have expressed even fear over the lessening of water in the Grand Etang Lake and a lot of our rivers including the one at Paradise in Saint Andrew which an announcer on the Grenada Broadcasting Network recently reminded us that, so great was its volume of water, that Prime Minister Sir Eric Gairy in the past, promised to bring the large Geest boats there to collect bananas from the farmers. Most of us took Grand Etang Lake for granted and probably never even gave a thought on the source of the water in it.

Unfortunately, another area of concern is the condemnation of the wells and springs on both Grenada and Carriacou that were main suppliers of water in the past. Very little reference, if any, is made about them. Unfortunately, they most likely have been left behind with the poverty-label attached to them as we focus on progress and affluent living. However, this week a radio station on Carriacou made reference to the many springs and wells that they made use of in the past even for livestock purposes. Unfortunately, most of them are in poor state as a result of neglect after serving Carriacou well in the past.

In 2020 when Grenada joined in celebrating World Water Day, it was Mr Trevor Thompson, as a Land Development Officer then within the Ministry of Agriculture who revealed some interesting information. The celebration of World Water Day (WWD) on March 22, was under the theme ‘VALUING WATER’. Activities planned were in keeping with the selected theme and overall as part of NAWASA’s Pearl Celebration, 30 years of service to Grenada.

In discussing the theme, Mr Thompson as the Chairman of Global Water Partnership Caribbean, expressed grave concern about the future availability of water and also the quality of water received. His revelation showed clearly how much we take water for granted. In pointing to the change in the weather pattern, Thompson reminded us of the flooding in Grenville during a dry season which was abnormal since the dry season had very little rain in the past. In examining the weather pattern, he said that he has seen a lot of rain again during that dry season up to April the following year. This, he said, made the prediction for the rest of that year, unsure.

In pointing to the fact that NAWASA depends on the rain for adequate supply of water to sell to consumers, Thompson expressed grave concern that some wells that were used in the past as natural suppliers of water, are now neglected. He made direct reference to three wells at Woodlands in Saint George in an area which once was protected wetlands. Who made the decision to have commercial development within that catchment location without coming up with mitigation plans? That’s the question we are asking this week. Mr Terrence Smith who is now back at NAWASA as the acting general manager has now inherited that situation, but, under his watch in the past, that whole watershed area down at Woodlands where businesses are now located, was demarcated as a protected area. He recently explained in the media the seriousness of the need for managing these wetlands for base flow to rivers.

 Now that we have seen that area gone to major commercial development which comes with a great demand for water, shouldn’t more of us be concerned about those wells?  The forward thinking Thompson revealed that he is not sure that they would even be able to be used in the coming years, should there be a scarcity of water over a long period. Well, that’s what we are experiencing presently, scarcity of water. The wells which could have been plan B are now abandoned. One of the reasons Thompson pointed out was the lack of the land use policy which, when the water policy that was approved by Cabinet, should have been done in parallel with the land policy. So they were supposed to be partners, walking together for the greater good; the management of land going together with the management of water is certainly common sense.  

Another area of concern is in Annandale. Thompson revealed that people were using the area above NAWASA’s catchments to rear cattle. In his words “and if you tell the owners anything, they want to pull cutlass.” This he explained can compromise the quality of the water that is being piped. Smith, the acting general manager recently revealed that Annandale is serving the town of Saint George right down to the south of the island to Point Salines. The new hotels and other developments are certainly stressing the system and here we definitely must thank the UKCIF project which is dealing with the southern St George water supply expansion project to ensure a reliable supply; any help at this point is much appreciated.

But as citizens, let us look deep within ourselves to see if some of the problems we are presently going through are not man-made.

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