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Posted: Wednesday 5 December, 2018 at 9:23 AM

Water is Life: Err on the Side of Science

By: Patrick Martin, Commentary

    December 5, 2018

     

    Water is life. Without water, humans die in less than a week. Access to safe water is a human right and vital for the sustainability of the Federation’s development.

    Beneath Ponds and Needsmust, on either side of Kim Collins Highway, lies an underground reservoir of water with a capacity of 2.5 million gallons (9.5 million liters) per day. This aquifer supplies all the water to Bird Rock, Frigate Bay and its environs, and 50% of the water to the rest of island. Is there anything more precious?  

    My government faces a choice: follow a campaign promise and risk contamination of the aquifer or let science inform policy and enforce the protected area status of Ponds-Needsmust. To err on the side of caution means to choose the safer of two options which is the latter.  

    Fixable issues at BHS Victoria Road got caught up in a spirited election campaign. Going forward, protection of the Basseterre Valley Aquifer demonstrates total commitment to human and sustainable development - political maturity.   
     
    My government appears unmoved. Ground in the aquifer area has been cleared as if to show something good is about to happen there. Can anything good come out of the toilets of a secondary school? If 800 students and 80 staff each use an ultra-low-flush toilet once per day, 1.5 million liters of waste water will be generated per year, equivalent to the combined capacity of 150 large water tanker trucks.  
     
    The water table is so high in Ponds-Needsmust that only option for waste water management is a sewage plant. Sewage plants emit gasses. The air downwind will smell of hydrogen sulphide, ammonia and kindred noxious chemicals. Impact studies ought to consider whether, depending on wind direction, foul odours can affect our 1.1 million visitors arriving via Port Zante and the airport.   
     
    Before he was a candidate, the incumbent area representative was an evangelist for maximum aquifer protection. He was right. As minister for water, my representative will also be right to protect human health, livelihood and life from the profiteers of aquifer contamination at all costs. Such is the stuff of national heroes. 
        
    Government can use this season of goodwill to err on the side of caution and beat a graceful retreat from aquifer destruction. Bureau of Standards scientists should be engaged to direct a BHS Victoria Road clean-up, as they are for the current mold situation at NHC. 
     
     
     
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