On November 5, WASA advised the public yet again that the water levels in our three main resevoirs are well below the mark of what they should be for this time of year, when we have mere weeks to the end of 2019 and with it the rainy season.
In October, we learned that Desalcott was being paid millions to provide water for the thirsty domestic population. For the entire year, most of Trinidad’s population has been on some sort of water schedule. The message between the lines is that we are facing a water crisis in Trinidad and Tobago.
For those who think that the most important resource is oil or gas, I must indicate that history states otherwise. The greatest civilisations grew up on the banks of the Tigres, Euphrates, Nile, Indus, Ganges, Yangtze and Yellow rivers. Many wars have been fought over water. Even the famed issues regarding Jammu and Kashmir have at their base water security.
Last year, Cape Town became the first megacity to run out of water, this year it was Chennai. So seeing that this is a major issue, what are we doing about it?
Minister of Public Utilities Robert Le Hunte on November 8, as quoted in the newspapers leaves much to be desired as he is not a “magician.” The grand solution is a water schedule for three days a week, oblivious of the reality that water has been rationed to some parts of the island for most of the year.
Citizens, as far as I know, pay water rates for days and weeks without water, but I am not aware of any discount WASA gives them for reduced or nonexistent service. We can speak about plumbing issues, booster stations to move water from the under half capacity Hollis reservoir to south, but it is never without a complaint about previous governments (regardless of the political fence) not paying attention to this issue.
Minister Le Hunte, you are only being called out because you are the one in charge at the moment. We cannot do anything about the past, and we are not living in the future, but in the present, we can certainly act. The job does not require you to be a magician—it requires you to recognise that you have been charged with managing Trinidad’s most precious resource and therefore demands that you be proactive in dealing with it. Climate change trends suggest that water woes are a new way of life unless we become resourceful.
Water is too precious to be politicised or to put a price on. So if more wells are required, let us dig them. If more reservoirs and dams are required, let us build them. If we need more desalination plants, let us build and manage them. If it requires a management plan to trap all of that water that floods our streets and homes while the dams remain dry, let us put this in place. I am not an engineer, but I am sure on WASA’s payroll there are those who can tell us what is needed. If we need the money, let us find it (that is the responsibility of the Finance Minister).
In the meantime, we will just have to pray hard enough that enough rain falls before the end of the year.