Contact us

If you need any information , feel free to contact us!
phone number: (758)468-5649/5645/5648/5635

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Water Shortage: What can we do?

By: Te-Hsin Tsai (Grace)
Taiwan ICDF Overseas Volunteer
Forestry Department

~Imagine there are, an apple and a liter of water in front of you. Now guess how many liters of water we need to produce this apple…~

I am pretty sure that most St. Lucians have the knowledge that saving water is very important and everyone has the responsibility to conserve water. Every day when you go to some public places, especially in the toilet, you can see many sensational posters or signs saying “Water is Life!”, “Save water, save life”, or “when there is no more water , then there is no more you!” Also, teachers in every school teach students to save water. WASCO tells everyone to save water. TV and radio broadcast this message all the time and so on.

But with St. Lucia being an island surrounded by water; the sea, you may think to yourself don’t you see we have lots of water?! So why do we need to save water if we have plenty of it?

Yes, I know some may also say “it’s sea water. We can’t use it.” And I will respond to you that “yes you are very right!” It is true that we need to save freshwater as we only have less than 1 % of the total amount of earth’s water being freshwater, so saving freshwater is very important!

However, let me tell you another truth. In this less than 1 % of freshwater, the water we use everyday such as the water for washing dishes, cars, taking showers, drinking, cooking etc. accounts for only 8 % of freshwater use. The other 92 %, is used by agriculture and industry. So, yes, you are saving water but just from the 8 % of domestic water consumption, which is also important, but unfortunately it is not enough!

Most of the things we can see now either comes from industry or agriculture, they cost direct and indirect water consumption. For example, we need water in the factory to cool down machines or wash products. And we need water for agriculture to grow crops and rear animals.

Now let’s get back to “how much water is needed for producing an apple?” The answer is 70 liters of freshwater (Water Footprint Network, 2012). From irrigating, harvesting, processing such as washing, delivering to shops and then your home, it takes 70 liters of water! Can you believe that! Do you think you can save 70 liters of water a day?
How about other things? A cup of coffee takes 140 liters of water. 1 kg of rice takes 3,400 liters of water and 1 kg of beef takes 15,500 liters of water (Water Footprint Network, 2012). These are just foods, how about tables, clothes, cars and other products? They need even more water to be manufactured!

Let me stop scaring you with the numbers. Maybe you already feel bad for having wasted water today. So let us do something instead of feeling guilty. What we can do is actually quite simple – just keep it simple. Think carefully when you eat or buy things. Ask yourself twice “do I really need these things?” before you buy them. Moreover, reuse old things. Eat simple foods instead of highly processed ones which are less healthy. Eat less meat or become a vegetarian; you can save water and also become healthier. In addition, eat seasonal foods because foods which are not planted in the right season need extra energy and water to produce them.

So, let us not only save domestic water but other freshwater by living more simply. And by the way, an additional piece of good news is that this can help you save lots of your money too.

Why Water Resources Management Agency: A necessary and timely response for water resources management in Saint Lucia.

By Fitzgerald John   
Water Resource Management Agency

Many people argue that the world faces an impending water crisis. This debate is fueled by the following facts:
·        Approximately 0.4 % of the total water in the world is available for humans.
·        More than 2 billion people are affected by water shortages in over 40 countries.
·        Over two million tonnes per day of human waste are deposited in water courses.
·        Half the population of the developing world are exposed to polluted sources of water that increases the incidence of diseases.
·        Increase in water demand due to the expected growth in the world’s population, from 7 billion to 9 billion people over the next 50 years.
·        The question of urbanization on the local economies.

In summary, water resources are increasingly under pressure from impacts of population growth, increasing water withdrawals, increasing economic activity, improper land use management practices, high levels of pollution, infrastructural development, and the effects of climate change.

A situation analysis of water in Saint Lucia indicates that the island is facing a water stress which will worsen and reach crisis proportion if a business as usual approach should continue. The analysis also revealed that water resources are managed in a very fragmented manner. There was no single agency responsible for the overall management of water resources in Saint Lucia. Management of water resources was shared among 12 government agencies, each operating independently of each other. This implies that the planning, development, conservation and management of such an important resource was not undertaken in an integrated and holistic manner. These shortcomings led to conflicts in use, allocation, and mismanagement of our water resources.

The situation of water management in Saint Lucia was highlighted to the government of the day, who agreed that the current situation was far from ideal and would support the adoption of an integrated approach to water resources management. It was further agreed that there was a need to rationalize the institutional arrangements within the public sector for the effective management of water resources and the adoption and implementation of a water policy. To this end a new Water and Sewage Act (No. 14 of 2005) was enacted to provide, inter alia, the enabling environment and the necessary legislative framework and institutional arrangements for the establishment of a Water Resources Management Agency (WRMA).This piece of legislation was further revisited in 2008 with the necessary amendments enshrined. The new Agency is charged responsible for the management, protection, control, allocation and use of Saint Lucia’s water resources and was under the portfolio of the minister responsible for agriculture, however with new dispensation, the WRMA will now be operating under the Ministry for Sustainable Development, Science, Energy and Technology.

Though the WRMA was established by the promulgation of the Water and Sewage Act No. 14 of 2005, it was formalized and became functional three years later towards the end of 2008. Thanks to the Ministry of Agriculture personnel who did all in their powers to enable the eventual birth of the Agency at a time when the water resources of our country needed to be managed efficiently and sustainably. The sustainable management of the country’s water resources is the primary objective and mandate of the Agency along with its many functions and this could only be achieved through an integrated approach in which all stakeholders are brought on board to participate in the activities and decision making processes of the Water Resources Management Agency. Recently the agency conducted several consultative sessions on its draft strategic action plan with the aim at receiving feedback on the way forward for the agency. To date we are in the process of consolidating these ideas so that the agency can make a formal presentation to the Permanent Secretaries and Ministers for ratification.

Question: Is St. Lucia’s Exotic Pet Trade Industry creating a pathway for Invasive Alien Species (IAS)?

By: Dr. Ulrike Krauss & Timotheus Jn Baptiste

Have we noticed how big pet trading has become lately? As an emerging world issue our small island nation is not exempt from the potential threats of these exotic pets. The phrase “One man’s pet is frequently another man’s problem” springs to mind. Whilst we watch, this silent problem walks, crawls, flies or swims, into our homes, offices, farms and forests via numerous formal, informal, poorly-regulated or even illegal outlets.
The exotic pet trade will remain a silent problem until people are educated about the dangers, identify the victims, and are aware of the growing size of the problem. Education is a major component of a current drive to improve our understanding of the issues involved in the trading of exotic pets and to create a better relationship with persons within the pet trade industry. Although pets provide many emotional and psychological benefits, gaps in the industry can create many unwanted and severely detrimental situations for everyone.
The physical safety of the public is not only an issue for owners of exotic animals; the spread of disease is a much larger threat. Exotic animals often carry diseases such as herpes B, salmonella, monkey pox and rabies, all of which are easily transmittable to and potentially lethal to humans.
Most people who buy exotic animals have no idea what they're getting into. Even the most well-meaning person can become frustrated after trying to meet the high demands and special needs of a "pet" monkey for 30 years. As wild animals age they become more difficult to handle.
Even smaller pets like; parrots, reptiles (e.g. terrapin turtles) and small mammals, such as hamsters, are often mistakenly thought of as easy "starter pets" for children. The truth is these small exotic animals require very special care and maintenance and veterinary costs can be very high. When people discover that they are unprepared or unable to provide for their exotic pets' costly needs, these animals are often abandoned or die from inadequate care.
Ultimately, our local government and taxpayers bear enormous responsibility and costs when exotic animals are set loose or escape and must be recaptured, or when they are seized due to neglect or because they are endangering the community.
Current international regulations on the pet trade as a pathway for Invasive Alien Species (IAS) have very limited scope. Notwithstanding, national laws and regulations exist and are implemented through the Veterinary Department and the Forestry Department.  The Wildlife Act 1980 regulates pet import procedures and restricts the keeping of local wildlife as pets.
As pet keepers, we should not only follow the law, but also use good judgement on what species we can care for throughout their lifespan.  Under no circumstances should pets (including fish, live feed and aquarium plants!) be released into the wild.  Pet keepers need to ensure their animals do not escape accidentally either. 
Pet breeders and vendors have a vested interest in the safe and responsible running of the industry.  Their long-term business success depends on taking informed and professional actions.  This, in turn, requires regular capacity-building and seeking expert advice, e.g. from the Wildlife Unit of the Forestry Department (Tel. 468 5644).

Presenting a case study for your discussion, what do you think?

Case in Point Red-eared Slider Terrapins Wreak Havoc in Freshwater Ecosystems
The red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) enjoys great popularity as a pet.  Over 52 million individuals have been exported from its North-American origin to foreign markets between 1989 and 1997.  Its robustness, which renders it an uncomplicated pet even for children, is a two-edged sword: this terrapin has a remarkable ability to adapt to a range of climates and invade novel habitats.  Red-eared sliders are omnivores: they feed on plants and prey on small waterfowl, fish, amphibians, and invertebrates and are strong competitors to native fauna.  The basking behaviour of the slider may impact nesting water birds: if nests get pushed into the water, eggs are killed.  Red-eared sliders are also known to be carriers of Salmonella bacteria.  Given its longevity (up to 40 years) as well as invasive and destructive history, imports of T. scripta elegans into the European Union have been banned.