Water among topics to be addressed at PM’s Roundtable

Prime Minister, Dr. Terrance Drew, will host another highly anticipated Roundtable on 9th April, 2024.

The meeting will be carried by local media houses from the Marriott Resort at 1pm.

Last week, Press Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Adelcia Connor-Ferlance, disclosed that the prime minister will engage the media and public on his recent participation in the Regional Security System (RSS) Council of Ministers Meeting in Guyana, Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Forum and an upcoming trip to the Middle East to meet with investors.

The Middle East trip is expected to be particularly fruitful as the Labour administration seeks to gather the resources that will allow it to tap into St. Kitts and Nevis’ abundant geothermal reserves.

Dr. Drew is also expected to discuss several other issues including ongoing issues with water.

As drought conditions continue to impact several countries across the region, the Drew administration has begun to explore ways to alleviate the problems the water shortage and rationing have created.

Presently, all of the Federation’s potable water comes from rainfall. According to the Water Department, this is collected from “…seven from rivers providing surface water, which account for about 30 percent of our water supply, and twenty-six wells providing groundwater, which account for about 70 percent of our water supply, for a combined production of about 5.6 million gallons of water per day.”

While the present daily production capacity is 5.6 million gallons of water, the demand is 6.6 to 7 million gallons.

Reduced rainfall, which has exacerbated the water supply issue, is an inexorable result of climate change.

In a paper titled “Drought Risk Modeling Is Strengthening St. Kitts and Nevis’ Water Supply Resilience” which was published on 8th November, 2023, Cheryl Jeffers who is attached to the Ministry of Environment, Climate Action and Constituency Empowerment said, “The 2015 drought was a wakeup call for Saint Kitts and Nevis. Prior to that, the country had never experienced water security issues.”

According to data from the Meteorological Service, Saint Kitts and Nevis is currently experiencing the driest rainy season on record. In August 2022, the average rainfall of 741.8, dropped to 594.1, and further decreased to 472.1 in August 2023.

“June to November used to be our rainy season. During these months rainfalls would replenish our wells and water reservoirs, which would then grant us water during the dry season. This balance has been broken, and we are now facing frequent and severe droughts”, explained Vincere Benjamin who is attached to the Meteorological Office.

Over the past 10 years, there has been a recorded 20 percent decrease in rainfall.

Notwithstanding these realities, the government is taking steps to address this issue, beginning with encouraging the conservation of water. According to the Water Department, if every person reduced their water consumption by just 20 percent, the country would be able to return to 24 hour water distribution.

In his 2024 Budget address, Prime Minister Drew also disclosed other areas being explored.

“Over one year ago, our Government made it a priority to address the water issue in the Cayon area by re-engaging Bedrock Exploration Development Technologies (BEAD) St. Kitts Ltd. to commence drilling in Cayon. By August 2023, we were successful in securing a substantial resource of potable water for the residents of that area. The well has the capacity to provide 700,000 to 1 million gallons of water per day. This is a phenomenal find given the pressure that climate change has placed on the water supply through perennial drought conditions,” he said.

Drew continued, “As an interim measure, the Government introduced a new Water Storage Tank Project to ease the suffering of residents by improving access to water by affected households. Under this Project, we have already distributed 265 tanks primarily to vulnerable residents in Upper Cayon, Whytes Village, Sarahbowry, Cabbage Tree and Spooners Village. These areas are known to be the most severely impacted by water scarcity and have felt the brunt of the water shortage impact over the years. Water storage tanks were also distributed to the residents of St. Peters who suffer a similar plight. A total of 314 water storage tanks were supplied to households throughout Upper Monkey Hill, The Glen, Parray’s Village, Fountain and Stapleton bringing the total distribution under the Water Storage Tank Project to 579. We are also investing notable resources to maintain adequate water supply to residents in Frigate Bay and the Southeast Peninsula.”

He also indicated that the government will introduce desalination plants. While these have never been introduced before in the Federation, drought plagued countries like neighbouring Antigua and Barbuda have long used desalination plants to supplement the domestic water supply.

“Our Government has already accepted this reality and has set the plans in motion to realise the construction of two solar powered desalination plants with the assistance of the United Arab Emirates: one in St. Kitts and one in Nevis,” said Prime Minister Drew in the Budget address delivered on 13th December, 2023.

“The location of the plant in St. Kitts was confirmed in Conaree earlier this year and we have already conducted the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The EIA is currently under review by the experts at the Ministry of Sustainable Development.

“In addition, the Government has made a commitment to establish a two million gallon desalination plant in Basseterre. This plant will help to address water issues in Basseterre, Frigate Bay and the Southeast Peninsula for both residential and commercial users,” Prime Minister Drew said.

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