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World Water Day 2014

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Tue Mar 18, 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, World Water Day is an annual event which originated at the 1992 conference in Brazil, when an international day to celebrate fresh water was recommended by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Beginning in 1993, the United Nations then designated 22nd March as World Water Day.{{more}}

World Water Day 2014, ladies and gentlemen, is commemorated under the theme “Water and Energy.” Each year, the United Nations leads the focus with its March 22nd agenda on water worldwide, with the aim being “to give global attention to the importance of water and advocate for the sustainable management of our water resources.” This year, March 22nd falls on a Saturday, and so the United Nations has designated Friday, March 21st as World Water Day instead.

Ladies and gentlemen, the theme for this year’s commemoration not only gives substance to the issues and challenges surrounding water, but it also sheds light on the important topic of energy. These two issues are vital to the sustenance of humanity and life on a whole.

In St Vincent and the Grenadines, the importance of water is seen through its many uses, namely domestic, agriculture, industrial, tourism, provision of agri-services, food production, sanitation, fire fighting, provision of hydroelectricity etc. The importance of energy use in our country cannot be underscored, as VINLEC, the main source of energy production in St Vincent and the Grenadines, clearly powers our world by bringing hydroelectricity to our homes, institutions and businesses. And it is important to note that on mainland St Vincent, there is no need currently to use energy for water production. However, ladies and gentlemen, in some islands of the Grenadines, energy is required for the harvesting of water through the process of desalination.

The Central Water and Sewerage Authority recognizes the link between water and energy. For many years, along with VINLEC, the CWSA assisted the Forestry Department in the maintenance of the forests in the upper watershed of St Vincent, a task that will remain important to the production of fresh water used by both VINLEC and CWSA.

In 2013, ladies and gentlemen, two natural events occurred, which reminded us all of the importance of water. They were the massive landslide at Belmont which displaced 180ft of pipelines, which became buried in the mud at the bottom of the slide. The instability of that area forced the re-routing of pipelines to supply water to 14 communities. The estimated cost of the repairs and re-routing was EC$100,000.00.

In addition, ladies and gentlemen, on December 24, 2013, the water supply system of the CWSA was severely hit by extreme rainfall that resulted in damage to eight of the 11 water sources. There was damage to the pipeline network, road and plant. More than three quarters of the country’s households, businesses and institutions were without water for several days. The location of the sources high in the mountainous region of the country and the route for some of the pipelines across rivers presented serious challenges towards restoring water to consumers. An estimated EC$1.6 million was used in the initial restorative works, with a further EC$10,000,000 needed for the completion of rehabilitation work.

During both disasters, potable water had to be trucked to affected communities. 103,300 gallons of water had to be distributed to the aforementioned areas during the period September 3rd – 8th, while from December 25th, 2013, to January 10th, 2014, 1,085,990 gallons of water had to be distributed to 116 villages throughout the entire country. It is important to note, ladies and gentlemen, that no revenue was collected for the water that was distributed to the aforementioned villages during both disasters, resulting in a loss to the CWSA.

The CWSA has reported on the many calls for water from the various affected communities, which resulted in deliveries late into the night and very early each morning. It is indeed true to state that the importance of water and proper water usage is being increasingly communicated to consumers nowadays via the print and electronic media.

This year, as the Central Water and Sewerage Authority commemorates World Water Day, there will be several activities, beginning yesterday, Sunday, March 16, and ending on Friday, March 21.

I am, therefore, pleased to highlight the week’s agenda:

  • Sunday, March 16th-Church Service, Kingstown Methodist Church
  • Monday, March 17th – Message by the Hon Minister and visits to 11 schools in areas directly affected by the 2013 Christmas Floods
  • Tuesday, March 18th – Customer Appreciation Day at the New Montrose headquarters
  • Wednesday, March 19th – Open Day at all landfill sites throughout the state. Visits by secondary school students. An interactive radio programme on NBC’s Face to Face, featuring representatives from CWSA and VINLEC, in celebration of the theme for World Water Day.
  • Thursday, March 20th – Schools’ Career Day
  • Friday, March 21st -Staff Community Project

I thank the chairman and members of the Board, as well as the general manager and the entire staff for their sterling contribution to the development of water services here in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

This is indeed a wonderful opportunity to celebrate their huge efforts which continue to bear fruit. These persons work beyond the call of duty to ensure that service delivery is appropriate, supportive and excellent.

I thank, too, the consumers, with whom we continue to forge a wonderful partnership. I assure you all that every effort is being made by the professionals within the CWSA to keep water flowing in your pipes.

I, therefore, use this glorious opportunity to wish you all well as we celebrate World Water Day 2014 and declare this week of celebration open.

I thank you all.

Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment

Clayton Burgin

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