Water warning

Many will say the Roseau River, seen here flowing next to the Windsor Park Stadium, is not what it used to be
Many will say the Roseau River, seen here flowing next to the Windsor Park Stadium, is not what it used to be

Dominica joins the rest of the world on Friday to observe World Water Day with authorities giving a dire outlook at the state of the island’s fresh water levels.

World Water Day has been observed since 1993 as an initiative from the United Nations to help get sanitation and drinking water to those who need it most.

Statistics by the United Nations reveal that there is an increased demand for fresh drinking water worldwide. 783 million people across the globe do not have access to clean water while 6 to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases.

Half of the hospital beds in the world are currently occupied by patients suffering from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water.

Dominicans have always boasted that there are 365 rivers on the island, one for every day of the year, but according to Water Resources Minister, Reginald Austrie, this may not be the case.

The Castle Bruce River
The Castle Bruce River

“Our rivers are rapidly diminishing,” he said earlier this week at a workshop for the proper management of water. “In Dominica we take water for granted, we have no respect for it, we waste it because we are still under the notion that we have 365 rivers in Dominica. But I have been advised several times that is not the case.”

According to Austrie what remains in Dominica is what he described as ‘water lanes.’ “We may have 365 water lanes where water used to be but the water is finished, we don’t have more water in those lanes except during the hurricane season where we have this temporary waterfalls all over the west coast,” he said.

Austrie pointed out that the  trends are there to show that Dominica might be importing water in the next 50 years. “If we don’t take stock, the next generation will have great difficulties in obtaining water as freely as we have it today,” he noted.

Former national disaster coordinator, Cecil Shillingford, is blaming the depletion of forests on the matter and is of the opinion that its already too late to reverse the trend of the lost of water resources in Dominica. “I think it is very difficult right now to reverse that trend,” he told DNO. “I think what we will see as the years progress is the further dwindling of the water resources.”

The Melville Hall River
The Melville Hall River

He is suggesting more conservation in the island’s water shed areas and the replanting of trees as means of slowing down the process. “We should move at a hundred miles per hour in terms of conservation, reforestation, and things of that nature,” Shillingford noted. “As I am saying it may be too late but I am sure if we move speedily on that we can see a sort of slowing down of what is happening right now.”

Assistance forestry officer, Ronald Charles, said he is not sure what is the cause of the drop of water resources on the island, however the forestry division has been active in managing the forests in such a way to ensure the island’s rivers continue to flow. “We are doing our best and we have that under control,” he said.

When asked if he believes that deforestation is a major cause for the drop of water resources, Charles said, “the evidence doesn’t suggest that.”

He stated that there are “small areas of concern” but in general it appears that deforestation is not the major issue. “It is not deforestation per se,” he said. “I mean 85 percent of Dominica is covered with forest, so in Dominica it is not really a deforestation issue.”

He said other factors, such as climate change, maybe involved and this is beyond the control of the forestry division.

Meanwhile PRO of DOWASCO, Ed Registe, said it is important that all Dominicans take steps to preserve the island’s fresh water resources.

“Imagine Dominica without water, what will it be like?” he said. “It is possible that we could lose our water resources. We encourage everyone to practice water conservation techniques and remove ourselves from the mindset that we have an abundance of water, yes we do, but we can lose it.”

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  1. Annon
    March 24, 2013

    Purely political rebuttal. Austry is only saying those things because he thinks Prevost scored some political points for Hydro, and against Geothermal. And I am all for geothrmal energy right alongside our great hydro potential. They are both important and much needed to bring down the high electricity rates MONSTER.

  2. van
    March 24, 2013

    The problem with the rivers is worsened by the people who purchase land to build etc, within vicinity of these rivers. They in turn divert the natural path of these rivers for their own gains.

    The Government should emphasis to buyers/owners of lands, that rivers belong to the people and Dominica as a whole, and therefore their paths should be maintained.

    The Government should also employ staff to oversee that this rule is not broken. If broken then stiff fines/penalities should be paid.

    • Annon
      March 27, 2013

      What if they are political supporters, with money? Even the current guidelines at housing and planning department go out the window, and do a little research you will find there are rules and laws in place to prevent that.

  3. March 24, 2013

    Agriculture and using the rain water for building purposes etc is the way forward. It would be such a shame to destroy Dominica’s tourism trade based on nature. Dominica must also think about solar power as a viable source, nothing should interfere with nature on the Island. I would love to see some form of apprenticeship schemes for the younger generation in the area of Agriculture which should be viewed upon as a high profession including environmental officers to enforce the laws should anyone break them.

  4. Anonymous
    March 23, 2013

    People with Geothermal it’s expected that there will be more water issues

    • Why
      March 24, 2013


  5. March 23, 2013

    Hello and good afternoon my people. Well I don’t know of any River in Dominica where they build a Dam to provide electricity to our people. I left Dominicain 1970 and returned in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and its very painful to see our Rivers emptying out into the sea without providing any benefit to our citizens. With so much water we should be making huge profits from selling water to the Virgin Islands but Mr Austrie is telling us that in fifty years we might be importing water. It’s time to bring a foreign company to build a big dam which would provide electricity and pipe borne water but the water rates should be controlled by the Government or an appointed board of directors. We land at Melvin Hall and and we see the river emptying into the sea without any benefit to us. We can build a dam which would provide some benefit to the community.

  6. supporter
    March 23, 2013

    when Arthie and Whilshire speak you all put politics to it.One of those good days we will wish we had listen to them but alas it will be too late.Is Austrie beginning to understand or just running his mouth?

    • Annon
      March 24, 2013

      The latter!

  7. March 23, 2013

    Mannnn..I can’t believe that’s all the water left in the Roseau river.
    I remember the good old days when we would take our hugh black tubes,go up to Bath Estate and sit on our tubes;we would go all the way down to the river mouth without our behinds touching a stone.
    It was the land of 365 rivers,we probable might now have to say 365 streams…

    • March 23, 2013

      Hello, I learn to swim under power and I use to ride such tubes down Roseau River. I was very surprised to see this river when I returned in 2010.

  8. Anonymous
    March 22, 2013

    And yet some villages on the island long for some water to flush their toilet…less more bathe or drink….

  9. anonymous2
    March 22, 2013

    Dunk the U.N. They are alarmists and eugenicists. The elite U.N. wants to get rid of all the people, then they won’t have to make statements like this.

  10. March 22, 2013

    It comes from global warming, All our Rivers in the caribbean water levels are going down. What we need to do is to do river terracing in the rivers to prevent large volumes of water draining in the sea at one time.

    Our watersheds are to be examined and left in a natural state and free from human interferance. these have to be community efforts to maintain our rivers streams and springs.

  11. Justice
    March 22, 2013

    In the story above Mr Austrie said that if we do not take stock the trend shows that Dominica would be importing Water by the next fifty years. The Minister of Trade should avuce Mr Austrie that Dominica is now importing water from Antigua, Barbados and other Caribbean countries.Get the import data from
    the trade statistics for the value and quantity.

    • Why
      March 23, 2013

      What yu been smoking na, politics? Dream on!

  12. Nature isl
    March 22, 2013

    put a water catchment to stop the revers from flowing into the sea ,so that water wornt be wasted :lol:

  13. wannaknow
    March 22, 2013

    yet still dowasco is closin all stand pipe,you in town n thirsty you cant get a single pipe to drink water,also its worst when its carnival cause you cant gety water to wash your face in case of tear gas….SHAME ON DOWASCO…P.S; THEY EVEN PUTTING METER FOR YOU AND DOMINICA IS A LAND OF 365 RIVERS….SHAME ON DOWASCO….

    • Justice and Truth
      March 22, 2013

      Dominica usually gets a lot of rain. Dominicans should collect rain water. If possible, some should also build a well to collect the rain water which they could also use for bathing, laundry and washing dishes. This is how you could get back at a corporation which gouges its customers.
      The amount of water there is in DA they should not be paying for water at all. It is God’s water, nature water, the nation’s water. I can understand paying for electricity but not water.
      I am all for cost-cutting and saving. If it were me I would make good use of the rain water. The property of houses in Dominica should be constructed in such a way that Dominicans could collect rain water.
      We are in an era that people are trying to conserve energy and cut costs. The property of houses in Dominica should be constructed in such a manner that Dominicans could collect rain water. The rain water could be boiled. If they have water-filters, be they portable ones, they could filter the water. If placed in the fridge I bet the water would be refreshing. It should not get anyone sick or kill them.

  14. pingpong
    March 22, 2013

    please people, no idiotic comments about deforestation……. we have no more farmers, or just a handfull… its because of the global warming thingy

  15. real talk
    March 22, 2013

    yeah man.. i agree with that… we really need to stop wasting our water… it is just sooo important…water to me is life.. lets preserve and appreciate our blessing here in Dominica

  16. Observer
    March 22, 2013

    The Hon. Minister can take a stand against waste of water. He has to address the issue of wasteage of water at our various public conveniences. tehre are tooo many broken/dmaged faucets that remain unrepaired for weeks and month on end with water flowing 24-7. That is a very serious situation that Mr. Austrie has to address The water is treated water, in soem cases puming is used. So the cost of delivering a quality water service to the communities is tremendous. It should not go to waste because we do not want to hurt people.

    • ambasso
      March 22, 2013

      is not the minister tyhat breaking the pipes.even when they are replaced. some people r breaking them on purpose and then they blaming government

    • Papa Dom
      March 22, 2013

      moron, what they are talking about is the RIVERS.

  17. KUBA
    March 22, 2013

    how can you waste water when it is coming from a river let us look at logic you do not used the water it is going to flow into the sea anyway.people who waste water are people who get their water from underground wells,with distillation plants if you get my drift.well Mr minister talk about deforestation this is what is destroying the river.put a law against cutting tress around the rivers and lakes and then we will protect our water

  18. grell
    March 22, 2013

    Over the years we have been wasting water.Pipes being left open all around the island,people washing cars,its a shame.We need to stop that practice around the island.

    March 22, 2013

    ***WE MUST STOP IT***

    We must STOP our wasteful habits!!

    It’s very typical that when something is in abundance we tend to abuse it & take it for granted. This is a very “eye opening” revalation.

    I hope we really pay attention and change our wasteful habits. Otherwise we will pay higher price for water………..

    …………. especially if it reaches to a point where we might need to IMPORT WATER???????



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