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Water management: a worldwide challenge

Bermudian scientist Tarik Smith

Opportunities exist for Bermuda’s young people to contribute to research in the field of water management and sustainability, according to Bermudian scientist Tarik Smith.

Mr Smith is to speak tomorrow at the Bermuda College’s annual Science Week which includes three days of community events that are free to the public.

His topic, “Water Engineering: Facing the Challenges of Water Management”, examines population growth, environmental pollution and climate change as just some of the factors threatening the long-term availability of clean water to the global population.

He said that it was essential for this generation to advance the work in this area through applied research and by using a multidisciplinary approach.

Mr Smith told The Royal Gazette: “I want to stress the importance of research and the role that applied research has to play in water management. The other area is the importance of co-operation from a multidisciplinary aspect. I want to encourage this multidisciplinary approach whether it is engineering companies, government entities, the water truckers NGOs — to get everyone involved because everyone has an important role to play.”

Mr Smith outlined a few simple measures that members of the public could take to better manage water.

He said: “Bermuda is very conscious in terms of water consumption. Rainwater harvesting system is a model for many countries. I think we don’t realise how advanced we are with respect to that. Many places have a lot to learn from Bermuda in that aspect.

“Other things to consider is when it comes to buying a washing machine or dishwasher, one of the deciding factors could be the amount of water that is consumed by them.

“It is also important for there to be more forums to educate people on the relationship between tank water and water quality. There are many question marks and some folks ask ‘is my tank water safe to drink? Is it contaminated, it is okay to drink well water?’ And perhaps some more effort needs to be made in educating the public and the public must do their research.”

Mr Smith said that water shortages are a real threat to the world and highlighted that wars were already taking over the resource.

“That is a reality now — you look at the so called Islamic State, their most important strategic locations — 80 to 90 per cent of their locations are either on rivers, damns or other important water resources. In Damascus there is a major clash over water.”

Asked his opinion on US president Donald Trump’s alignment with climate change deniers, Mr Smith added: “Donald Trump won’t be a focal point but I think it is very concerning. A lot remains to be seen. We really need to keep an eye out for these things. There have been many agreements like Kyoto and the Paris agreements that have been signed so there is a commitment by the vast majority of countries. While there may be a desire to counter that on the part of Trump I think it remains to be seen how much this talk will actually play out on an international scale in terms of the commitments.”

Mr Smith is a water engineering consultant based in Barcelona, Spain. He is the director of Koom Consulting, a private professional network offering services of water engineering, research and development, and project management to multiple sectors in Spain, the Caribbean, Africa, and beyond.

Other talks during the week will centre on nursing career opportunities, solar energy installation and the culinary arts.

All events begin at 6.30pm and are free and open to the public.