Statement by Honourable Felix Finisterre
on the occasion of World Water Day
March 22, 2003
Fellow citizens, greetings.
As we observe another “International World Water Day” I would like especially
those of us who are not too young to take time off to reflect on our water
situation today, vis-à-vis what it was two decades ago.
In so doing, I urge you to consider two key factors:
(i) the state of the resource, and
(ii) the provision of water and water related services to all and sundry.
I will address the second factor first, simply because of the progress which we
have made in this regard.
Our commitment to providing the public with a sustainable, affordable and good
quality supply of water is evidenced by the numerous interventions by
Government, viz: the coporatization
(I) the coporatization of WASA to WASCO;
(II) the introduction of new legislation to govern the water sector;
(iii) the establishment of a Regulatory Commission and the consequent
development of regulations;
(iv) the formulation of a National Water Policy, which is in the process of
being reviewed by the Cabinet of Ministers;
(v) the aggressive and uncompromising pursuit of Universal Service thanks to the
intervention of agencies such as the Poverty Reduction Fund and the Basic Needs
Trust Fund, and
(vi) the high level of investment in storage and distribution infrastructure,
such as the 20’ pipeline project and the numerous infrastructural components of
the 5th Water Project, viz:-
* A water treatment plant to be constructed in Grace, Vieux Fort to serve
approximately 20,000 residents;
* Replacement of the pipe lines in Hill-20 to ensure better service to Babonneau
and its environs; as well as the Bocage reservoir for servicing the Eastern
parts of Castries,
* New water pumps to be placed in Talvern, Babonneau, and
* Upgrading of the pumps on the Castries Sewer System.
Also, under the 5th Water Project the increase in bulk and domestic meters will
help tremendously in water conservation – with the bulk meters it will enable
WASCO to determine the amount of water in the distribution system, and
ultimately to accurately ascertain the level of unaccounted water e.g. through
licks, burst pipes etc – ie both under and above ground.
With Domestic meters it allows for the accurate measure of water consumed by
individual households, reflecting a more accurate billing system and which
finally results in encouragement for conservation by consumers.
Those interventions, to mention a few, have resulted in provision of potable
water to significantly more of our citizens than ever before.
We must, however, be guarded when exalting our successes in the provision of
services which are dependant on a non-renewable natural resource.
Those of us who are old enough could attest to the very many rivers and streams,
which have dried-up as a result of human activity. The forest canopy which is
the watershed has been reduced to a minute fraction of what it was. It is
unfortunate that we tend to focus on provision of water service while very often
remaining oblivious to the state of the natural resource base.
The Government of St. Lucia, recognizing the precarious state of our water
resource has taken a three-prong approach to ensure the sustainability of our
water resources for future generations, that is:-
(i) The individual,
(ii) Communal, and
The individual approach seeks to continue encouraging, through the efforts of
the Ministry of Physical Development and Housing, new buildings to be installed
with water storage capacity; as well as the afore-mentioned improved
conservation resulting from the meterization programme by WASCO.
The communal approach encourages communities to be proactive and develop
projects geared towards protection and propagation of water catchments. This
approach has been exemplified by the Talvern community in Babonneau whose work
in community-based watershed management is now internationally recognized and
replicated in other countries.
The national approach is characterized by the formulation of a policy geared
towards an Integrated Water Management Strategy. This policy has led to a
Strategic Action Plan, which allocates and assigns responsibilities to the
various agencies critical to the sustainable management of the water resources.
Resulting from the evolving regulatory framework for the sector, new
public/private and community partnerships are
expected to emerge. This should lead to the exploration of the feasibility and
economic viability of developing other water sources e.g: groundwater and de-salination.
“Water for the Future” is indeed a most appropriate theme for this year’s
observation of International Water Day, as it challenges all citizens of the
world to treat every drop of water as if it were the last drop. It is imperative
that we balance the short to medium term ideals of provision of service with the
longer-term objective of guaranteeing water for the future.
We must work closer with the Meteorology Unit, as prediction of weather patterns
is indelible to effective water resource management.
In conclusion, I wish to urge St. Lucians to obey the laws enacted for the
purpose of conserving our water resources and desist from engaging in illegal
activities and detrimental practices.
You should also pay attention to weather predictions, which will assist in
responding to prevailing and forecasted circumstances.
Please, treat water with respect, as “Water is Life”.
I thank you.