Lack of forest cover affects drinking water after Maria

The Environmental Health Department says lack of forest cover is affecting drinking water

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.”


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  1. Radan
    December 5, 2017

    Plant more Trees

  2. Curvan. Lawrence
    December 3, 2017

    The other thing that the authorities should be looking at is the number of trees which have fallen. The dry season will be coming in a few months and farmers still burn thier land for planting. That will spell disaster in case fire gets out of control. There should be an awareness campaign to sensitize everyone especially those who love to set fires along the roadsides.

  3. Eddy Man
    December 3, 2017

    Bonjour, les nappes phréatiques sont-elles polluées? pourquoi ne pas puiser l’eau ou elle prend sa source comme pour les bouteilles d’eau de source en métropole?

  4. Miriam Gerwig
    November 29, 2017

    Why is our tap water green?

  5. Shaka Zulu
    November 29, 2017

    Here is what happens, the forest cover serves as a buffer slowing the direct impact of rainfall and exposure from sun. As a result water slowly makes its way to the ground and infiltrate the soil. Remove the vegetation cover increases surface runoff and formation of small to large drains. This means that soil holds less water an instead of steady sub surface flow to the rivers we have large overland flows. Thats the reason deforestation leads to dry river beds and terrible flash flooding. One problem overlooked is the increased transportation of pesticides and other hazardous chemicals including fertilizer into our strean system. The problem is boiling helps in killing bio microbes especially from animal and human droppings but does nothing to these chemicals may even concentrate them. In addition i would suggest using carban filters. Coconut shell or would charcoal works great. It is actuall what is in the fancy filters you buy. Hampstead river has plant overgrowth and my guess

    • Shaka Zulu
      November 29, 2017

      … is most likely from increase nutrients in the water, a process called euthrophication. Most agri land have been historically near river plains. Guess what over the years we have pumped 1000s of gallons of pesticides, herbicides, fugicides and othe chemicals in the ground and the absense of vegetation may just have accelerated rhier flow to our water sources. Something to think about.

  6. Jax. GB.
    November 29, 2017

    Is there a list for area’s that now have water. ?? There was a daily update just after Maria but it seems to have stopped.

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