CASTRIES: In response to a lack of improvement to a drought situation and decreased water levels, the Government of St. Lucia has declared a water-related emergency for all parts of the island until July 31.
A water-related emergency is declared when a shortage or deficiency of water exists or may soon exist.
Minister with responsibility for the Public Service, Information and Broadcasting, Dr. James Fletcher, said river flow rates around the island were below expected base-flow rates.
“The information presented to me by the Water Resource Management Agency indicates that from the data collected at George F.L. Charles Airport and Hewanorra International Airport…St. Lucia is currently experiencing a long-term meteorological drought,” he said.
Dr. Fletcher said government has taken several steps to reduce the impact of the dry period. In the north of the island, the Vanard and Ravine Poisson intakes were reactivated; abstraction of water from the John Compton Dam will be reduced; 13 major leaks on the raw water line from the dam to the Ciceron Treatment Plant are being repaired; a water source in Deglos will be activated; and temporary public standpipes will be installed in some of the most affected communities around the island.
In addition, the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) will assist with trucking water to communities where water is urgently required.
Government said the public had to co-operate for the measures to work. It has advised that drinking water should not be used for washing vehicles and watering lawns or gardens and that the washing of vehicles in rivers, should stop immediately in order to avoid contamination of water sources.
The Caribbean Drought and Precipitation Monitoring Network has issued a drought warning for Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Antigua & Barbuda, the Cayman Islands, Dominica, the eastern part of the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Martinique, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and northern Guyana.
Due to the emergence of an El Nino, which often results in a drier dry season later in the year, the forecast is that islands in the southeastern Caribbean that have existing water shortages may not see any improvement until the Atlantic hurricane season or wet season starts.