Although water has been restored to most of Dominica after Hurricane Maria, the Environmental Health Department has warned that water quality may be affected by the lack of forest cover.
The department said it is monitoring the quality of the water but warns the public should avoid consuming water from taps after heavy rains.
“As people know we do not have forest cover right now … and what happens during heavy rains is that the stream banks erode, get into the river and the water is dirty,” Chief Environmental Health Office, Sylvester St. Ville said during a radio program. “We are advising individuals that whenever they see heavy rains that they have to avoid drinking the water from the DOWASCO taps.”
He stated that in some areas, DOWASCO has filtration systems, but this is not the case many other areas.
“So as a result of the lack of forest cover the erosion, soil that is eroded can get into the water system,” he remarked.
He said one of the things the department is concerned about is the spread of water-borne diseases, although there has been no explosion of such diseases.
“Our health system is prepared but we do prevention, a lot of what we do is prevention,” St. Ville said. “We provide information, we provide aqua tabs and technical guidance and we base on standards for safe water that have been developed.”
St. Ville advised that the boiling of drinking water is the safest method of treating it.
“Try not to use too much of the chlorine or the aqua tabs because sometimes you can use too much or too little …” he noted.
He said that the water should be boiled for five to seven minutes and steam should be seen rising from it.
“Boil the water, allow it to settle, get it cold,” he noted. “Sometimes it loses its taste because the air has been expelled from the water, so what you do is half full a container, shake it vigorously so that it can get back the air and get back its taste.”