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 Statement by Honourable Felix Finisterre, on the occasion of World Water Day, March 22, 2003

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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
(iii) National
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.


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