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Cannonier predicts water crisis

The Island could face a water crisis in the future unless a plan for managing its resources is drafted now, according to Craig Cannonier, the Minister of Public Works.

“What we're doing right now will not sustain us in the next 20 years,” Mr Cannonier told The Royal Gazette.

“We will have a water shortage, and we need to prevent that.”

It is envisioned that a 25-year strategy for St George's will serve as a model for the rest of Bermuda, in the form of a National Water Strategy.

After sending out a Request for Proposal to draw up a water and waste water servicing plan that will cover the East End, the ministry is now reviewing bids.

Tarik Christopher, the Government's principal engineer for water and sewage, explained that the model would serve as “a template that can be used for the whole Island in a phased manner”.

At present, St George's has a “piecemeal” system delivering drinking water to limited areas, as well as sanitary flushing water, sewerage and salt water fire hydrant mains.

Coping with waste water at the East End, particularly with large developments expected, will be a key part of the plan.

For the Island overall, Mr Cannonier said: “We now need to start looking at recycling in a big way.

“We are losing way too much — we are on the brink of a population explosion with the onset of the America's Cup.

“We have a lot of construction coming up very shortly, and the amount of water consumed during construction alone is massive.

“I've seen numbers indicating we are consuming almost three times as much as we were in the 1970s. Whenever there is a drought there is a major strain on the lenses of fresh water that run beneath the Island.

“Bermuda really is at risk. We don't like to think of national security issues in that manner, but this is something we need to look at — bacteria and fungi can spread fast, and it would behove the ministry to come up with a plan going forward.”

Mr Cannonier noted that the West End Development Corporation has developed “an incredible plan that receives sewage and turns it back into brackish water that is not potable but can be used for flushing”.

“They already have that capacity, which is a great model. Even better would be for them to take in sewage and produce potable water.

“We have got to be one of the few places in the world that flush good potable water, and it's gone.”

There is a minimum of 40 to 50 water supply trucking companies, which close to two thirds of residences rely upon for supplementary water.

Studying St George's wastewater infrastructure was a pledge of the 2014 Throne Speech, and the East End model could ultimately be used to create a water supply and servicing plan and a wastewater master plan for the Island.

A commission is also likely to be created, to regulate water supply and servicing entities — a non-ministerial body tasked with developing a national framework for water, oversee the Island's supply, and encourage partnerships between private and public water.

Preventing shortages: Craig Cannonier, the Minister of Public Works, says the Island needs a plan for managing its resources (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published December 11, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 11, 2015 at 1:17 am)

Cannonier predicts water crisis

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