Small Islands Voice Global Forum
Safeguarding water resources
“I would like to launch a civil campaign and urge every island citizen to lobby and press their authorities to ensure that water issues are adequately addressed”, writes Raj Prayag of Mauritius (Indian Ocean). This present article continues the discussion on water resources in small islands and includes several different approaches that islands are using for water supply.
Portia Sweeting from The Bahamas (Caribbean) writes: I teach and live on New Providence and most of our water is barged from another island in our chain. On several occasions recently, bad weather coupled with mechanical difficulties has prevented water from being barged to our island. During the day, as a conservation measure, the water company would cut the water supply. Now that's normally not so bad for homes, but schools, etc. that depend solely on that supply usually have a hard time coping. My students have designed, produced and distributed a brochure on the conservation of water. The water company has obtained our permission to mass produce our brochure for their customers. The government is also proposing a reverse osmosis water system for our island.
Taking up the theme of reverse osmosis, Ioannis Economides from Cyprus (Mediterranean) writes: Up to only a few years back, scheduled water cuts were routinely used in Cyprus during the summer months as a government policy tool to conserve water. Although Cyprus has an adequate capacity of rainwater dams, they could not ensure uninterrupted water supplies during consecutive drought years. The situation has changed with the installation of two reverse osmosis desalination plants, adequate to cover a significant portion of municipal water demand year around. However, one has to be a bit careful with the ownership and structure of the contracts for the operation of the desalination plants. For some time we had the desalination plants working at full capacity, while the dams were full and overflowing! The issue of water conservation these days tends to be addressed from two different aspects: (1) real cost pricing and (2) the promotion of an environmentally sensitive culture through the education system. My children will come and turn off the tap if I dare leave it running while shaving, and will give me an embarrassing short lecture about everybody’s responsibility to conserve water and protect the environment! Also, a lot of treated water these days is available for agricultural purposes from the municipal sewage treatment plants. Cyprus has not been able to fully utilize this water resource and some of it still ends up in the sea.
Turning now to underground water and the need to safeguard this resource, Ben Tanaki from Niue (Pacific) writes: People in Niue are fortunate to have a regular supply of water, which is pumped from underground. Every household has its own water tap and the service is funded by the government. We only have water cuts during natural disasters e.g. Cyclone Heta, when there was no power for the water pumps. But our water system is considered at high risk too. As long as the underground water is not contaminated, then we are alright. Otherwise, the whole island is in trouble. The cost of alternative means for us would be beyond our financial ability, and probably also beyond donor assistance. This is the kind of scenario that frightens us a lot. And this has caused us to be more active and work responsibly to safeguard ourselves against toxic materials. Given the pressure of economic development in small island states such as ours, this is a hard thing to achieve. But I am reasonably comfortable to know our Government has an Organic Farming concept in place, so that by 2010 Niue will be a Toxicant Free Island. This means there will be no more toxic fertilizers or toxic weed killers, only composted organic materials in use. But this idea will only work if our people are serious about it now. Thank you for the opportunity to share some of my thoughts as an individual from the small island of Niue. I believe the nature of social, cultural, economical and political problems and opportunities in our individual small island states is the same, the difference lies in the magnitude of the problems.
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