02 June, 2007

Water Hazard

Water Quality. Basic to a nation’s health is the quality of the water available to its public. When we drink a glass of water we expect that “the authorities” have ensured that it is safe to drink. I have received a number of emails recently that suggest that is not the case in Anguilla. I have gone around asking questions.

How do you know that Anguilla’s water is safe to drink? Because, it is tested at the Water Lab and the tests indicate that it is safe. But, Anguilla has no functioning water lab. We have not been able to test water in Anguilla for some years now. There is a building going up adjacent to the Environmental Health Unit near the NBA roundabout in The Valley. It is designed to be the new Water Lab, but it has not yet been handed over to government. I visited it yesterday, and there were two men working in it. At the rate that two unsupervised men usually proceed with construction, it will be many months if not years before it is ready to be commissioned.

We have a trained and qualified water technician at the EHU. She was not authorized to answer my questions about the quality of Anguilla’s water supply. So, I can only tell you what people who should know have been telling me. I hope you have a strong stomach for some of what I shall be passing on to you in the coming days. My concern is that if something is not done urgently about Anguilla’s present environmental hazards, the gastroenteritis outbreak that we experienced last year is going to be a joke in comparison to what we can expect.

It is not as if our Ministers of government are insensitive to the issues. Perhaps the loudest round of applause that greeted any of the Chief Minister’s announcements on the Park on Wednesday was for his promise that the Dolphinarium would not be permitted to be relocated to Sandy Ground. You must know that an area of the sea outside the old Mariners Hotel was to have been fenced off and turned into a dolphin cage. They would be fed there, and they would use the sea as their toilet. The Anguilla National Trust had written a well-researched and strongly worded plea against this installation. They had pointed out there had been no Environmental Impact Assessment. There had been no consultation with the residents of Sandy Ground. There had been no study of the impact on the animals of the oil, noise and traffic from the nearby cargo jetty. Unbelievably, the Planning Department had gone ahead and given planning permission. Not a soul in Sandy Ground had been consulted. No member of the swimming public knew that their beach was about to be turned into one big dolphin toilet. I have been the recipient of a surprisingly large number of astonished emails enquiring how our government could have allowed such a thing. Osborne and his ministers redeemed themselves in the eyes of many when they took this bold and correct decision to prohibit the relocation. They have some more steps they need to take in the same area of public health and welfare.


  1. If people knew the truth about how a dolphin is captured and trained, they wouldn't support dolphin shows and captive dolphin swim programs. Dolphins are free ranging, intelligent and highly social marine mammals. Captivity takes away the three most important aspects of their lives: Their pod members, their world of sound and their ability to swim freely. More here:

  2. As I understand it, the Planning Department have just flung their hands up in the air and given up. They are fed up with ExCo for abandoning the attempt to introduce a modern planning Act for Anguilla. When the public objected to the draft law that was published last year, instead of taking advice and improving it, the Ministers ran away from it. They decided a planning law was a hot potato, and they ducked the effort. The Planning Department has decided it is not going to try any longer. They will approve any nonsense put in front of them just to show the politicians what will happen when there is no proper planning legislation.

    I believe that strategy is sometimes called, "Cutting off your nose to spite your face."

  3. Eddie Baird and Sir Emile Gumbs deserve to be recognised for spear heading the lobbying to prevent the Dolphin prison from being relocated to Sandy Ground. It was good to see them working together for the good of the community. That is what can happen when people who are on opposite sides in politics can come together to fight for the good of their country. You do not have to betray your principles, as Hubert has done just to get his building rented by government. You can keep your principles, but work in cooperation with others when the national interest requires it. Thank you, Sir Emile and Eddie.

  4. It is true that we've needed a modern planning act for years. It wold be good to have one that doesn't allow ExCo to do just about anything they want to do for their friends. I can certainly understand the frustration of being a planner, trying to do the right thing, and being overruled for purely political reasons.

    That said, the draft planning bill contained things that were inappropriate and offensive to Anguillians. Why did the planners, who are Anguillians, allow a bill to be presented that called for penalties for partially-completed houses? It can only be explained as laziness. Then they allowed the blame to fall upon the hapless legal draftsperson, who was not from here and was perhaps unaware that in the old days, houses were usually built over a period of years. That was cowardly and shameful of the Head Planner.

  5. People like you are important to stir the pot.
    You never sugar coat. You tell it like it really is.

  6. Does the water lab now operate? Is our water tested? Are there laws in place to protect us and are they enforced? Can someone please update me?

  7. Are the results of water testing ever made public? I hear the Director of Public Health is the former water technician, but I can find no mention of what they are doing with out water. Can anyone give us an update?


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