St. Vincent and the Grenadines is in for a few more unusually dry months before the rainy season begins.
And the Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA) is reporting that water flows into its main intakes have already registered significant reductions.
“The last rainy season hasn’t been very good to us. We have had very little rainfall, …” Bernard Maloney, an engineer at CWSA, told a press briefing on Friday.
He said that the Majorca system, fourth in terms of production, but which serves the nation’s capital, Kingstown, has seen significant reduction.
There is a similar situation at the Jennings system, St. Vincent’s second most importance source of potable water.
“You can see not just the rainfall, but the stream flow has decreased also,” Maloney said, citing information on graphs shown at the press conference.
“And, the same in Dalloway system. Dalloway is our most important source. It provides 30 per cent of our water supply here in St. Vincent,” he said, as he reiterated that there was less than average rainfall during the last wet season.
“I have just received data from January, and sadly, the Dalloway system, which is our most important system, we have had a reduction, comparing it to the five-year average, of about 35 per cent,” he said.
“It’s quite scary. Even though we have been having rain and periods of rain, it really is not enough to recharge our watershed. So, there is cause for concern. And, even more scary, Majorca, which is a very important source, a 75 per cent reject in the flow, compared to the five-year average, in January alone…
“The flow in Montreal is practically non-existent. The river is really dry. So, even though we have been having rain and it looks good, it feels good, the rivers are suffering and we are in for serious circumstances in the next few months,” Maloney said.
Maloney noted that the regional outlook says that St. Vincent and the Grenadines will continue to be under drought watch, until the end of the dry season — May.
He, however, said that the CWSA is always in drought mode and always planning for the way forward.
In response, the Authority has had held high-level technical meetings since last November.
“And the main focus of these meetings was high consumption from public buildings, leak detection, especially in high-pressure areas, the integrity of main and secondary intakes to capture raw water, the status float valves in storage tanks,” he said.
There was a follow-up meeting in January to assess what has been done.
“When we look at our figures, we notice that there was excessive consumption in some government buildings, sometimes one to two million gallons per month; huge volumes of water.”
CWSA manager, Garth Saunders, who was at the press conference, interjected: “Excessive consumption, I think, is a euphemism really for wastage. I think he really wants to say wastage.”
Maloney said the CWSA has done the work planned, including fixing leaks and fittings in public buildings.
“Priority right now is given to leak detection and repairs. The crews are on the lookout for any leaks. We fix them right away. And we have also done a significant amount of cleaning to our intakes to maximize input.”
Saunders told reporters that in spite of the outlook, “The optimism has to come from the fact that Bernard has told us we are on top of things, we are measuring, we are monitoring what is happening, and we are preparing ourselves.”
He said the CWSA will update the public on any changes in circumstance and inform them of the expected response.