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Caribbean Looks to Avoid Fresh Water Scarcity

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Two years after a severe drought wreaked havoc with a number of Caribbean countries, some, including Dominica and Antigua & Barbuda, are now adopting new strategies in a bid to prevent a repeat of a situation where countries were rationing water and imposing strict restrictions on residents.

“We have embarked on a programme geared towards management of the catchment areas, which includes preventing deforestation, agricultural activities and use of chemicals in protected areas and overall limiting human activities in protected areas,” said Bernard Ettinoffe, general manager of the Dominica Water and Sewage Company (Dowasco).

He told IPS, “We have also embarked on educational programmes at the schools and community levels aimed at raising awareness of the need for conservation of water resources and more recently have begun giving consideration to an Integrated Water Resource Management Approach to the management of land and water resources.”

Antigua & Barbuda is reporting higher than normal rainfall over the past 12 months.

“Our surface water resources are at max capacity,” Ivan Rodrigues, water manager of the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA), told IPS.

But in spite of the higher than normal rainfall, an Antiguan meteorologist has expressed concern that not enough rainwater is being caught.

“I have always believed that we need additional surface storage so that we can capture and keep more of the rainfall that we do get,” said Keithley Meade, director of the Antigua & Barbuda Meteorological Services.

“The rainfall mostly does not even get to the aquifers (water stored in the ground), since the runoff is pretty fast. This is one area where I think we should have improved and still need to do so,” he told IPS.

Even with their increased focus on water management, financial constraints will prevent representatives of the tiny islands in the Caribbean from attending a major gathering next week to discuss this vital commodity – the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille, France from March 12-17.

Despite their absence though, Caribbean countries say they will be keeping a close eye on the meeting, which has set the ambitious target of going down in history as the forum that will bring solutions to water, based on openness and exchange.

(Source http://www.antiguaobserver.com/?p=72453)



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