Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 22, 2017 (SKNIS): St. Kitts and Nevis joins the international community to commemorate World Water Day 2017, which is celebrated on March 22 every year, as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of such a vital resource.
This year’s celebrations is observed under the theme “Why Waste Water”. Minister of Public Infrastructure, the Honourable Ian “Patches’ Liburd, reflected on the theme, noting that it “turns the spotlight on reducing and reusing wastewater to help to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Number 6”. SDG 6 in part, requires St. Kitts and Nevis and other countries to improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing the release of hazardous chemicals and materials along with reducing the proportion of untreated wastewater by 50% by the year 2030.
“There has always been a direct correlation between access to safe drinking water, proper treatment and disposal of wastewater and human health. This is evidenced in St Kitts and Nevis by our low infant mortality rate and decreasing incidences of water related gastrointestinal illnesses among our population. This was achieved by providing universal access to clean drinking water, a program of disinfection of the Federation’s water supply and onsite treatment of wastewater,” said Minister Liburd.
Minister Liburd briefly defined wastewater as ‘liquid waste discharged by domestic residences, commercial properties, industry and agriculture, which oftentimes contain contaminants’, noting that sewage is but one form of wastewater. He said that it is important to treat such water before it is discharged as it can have potential negative impacts on the environment such as contamination of surface and groundwater resources, as well as recreational waters for beaches for example. The minister said that he is happy to report that the proper treatment of water is done in the federation.
“Domestic wastewater in St. Kitts and Nevis is traditionally treated onsite by the use of Septic Tanks and Soak Away Pits. In the Frigate Bay and SEP areas package sewage plants are common as the soil type in that part of the island does not allow for the efficient operation of soak away pits. There are no municipal or central wastewater systems in the Federation except for a wastewater treatment plant in Frigate Bay that treats wastewater from commercial enterprises in that particular area,” he said. The Water Services Department is cognizant of the impact of untreated wastewater on our groundwater and has partnered with stakeholders to hire companies that provide septic tank pumping service in the area to address the construction and management of septic tanks.
The minister of public infrastructure said that the Department of Physical Planning and the Development Control and Planning Board (DCPB) approved the designs and monitor the construction of the systems. The Department of Environment monitors the wastewater streams from commercial and domestic wastewater systems with the aim of ensuring that they are well maintained, operated and that they meet discharge standards in order to protect the federation’s underground freshwater resources, marine environment and ultimately the health of our population.