SAINT LUCIA — An island in the Caribbean off the coast of Central America, Saint Lucia (St. Lucia) is a British Commonwealth country in between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. St. Lucia’s official website advertises the turquoise waters surrounding the island as “offer[ing]a plethora of rejuvenating and restorative adventures to build the body, mind, and soul” and as “some of the clearest waters in the world…”
In its Public Health (Water Quality Control) Regulations promulgated on March 11, 1978, the authorities prohibited “impairment” with the water quality in St. Lucia. The types of impairment covered by the Regulations included bans of improper waste disposal, sewage discharges into underground water, rivers, wells and holes, swimming, bathing and cleaning in public and private water supply bodies and constructions within 200 feet of water supply areas. Importantly, the Regulations prescribed the determination of the quality of water by the Public Health Board and established testing of chlorinated water for free residual chlorine by authorized personnel.
The island relies upon maintaining balance in its biodiversity and preserving its resources in order to provide sustenance and livelihood to its citizens while also up keeping its agricultural and tourism industries.
Several problems were highlighted in a report done by the United Nations Environment, Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) in 2010. This included inadequate management of the wastewater, the financial incapacity of the Water and Sewerage Company to provide services island wide and poor means of disposal. This resulted in high bacterial levels in coastal areas, affecting the health of the local population and polluting the environment.
The report also noted that the absence of national standards made it harder to prohibit violations of environmental nuisances. At the time the government of St. Lucia was in the process of developing Recreational Water Quality Standards, which regulated the coastal and riverine waters.
The absence of legislation requiring generators of wastewater to conduct water quality testing means that there are no designated waste control areas. It falls upon the regulatory authorities to ensure that the wastewater generators comply with the legally enforceable limits and do not pollute water resources. Due to the lack of human resource and budgetary constraints, water quality in St. Lucia can not be fully monitored, often leaving swimming pools, coastal water areas and treated wastewaters unchecked.
In 2016, following the John Compton Dam Rehabilitation and Vieux Fort Water Supply Redevelopment projects in November 2015, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) approved $11.2 million dollars in loans to the government of St. Lucia so it could help improve the water supply system in the Dennery North community.
Daniel Best, Director of Projects at the CDB, said, “We are pleased that, with the completion of this Project, nearly 8,000 people in Dennery North will have access to the quality water supply they need to lead productive lives.”
The Dennery North Water Supply Redevelopment Project, as it came to be known, would address the local water shortages through the construction of a river intake, installation of pumping stations, treatment plants, distribution pipelines and storage reservoirs. Water infrastructure would be built with the understanding of the climate change impacts.
In the 2017 observance of the World Water Day, the government of St. Lucia noted that “access to freshwater contained in rivers, streams and ground sources within our region and beyond is constrained by environmental conditions and negative human practices that compromise water quality and imperil human health. This has a deleterious effect on not only socio-economic development but also life itself.” It recognized that water quality in St. Lucia needs further improvements.
The country has followed the International Development Agenda, specifically the Sustainable Development Goals, and endeavored to actively work to improve sanitation and provide a better quality of life through the provision of safe drinking water for all.
– Mohammed Khalid