03 June, 2007

Water Standards

Water Authority. In most West Indian countries, the quality of the water supplied to the public is monitored and regulated by a “Water Authority”. Such an Authority has charge of the distribution of the public water supply. It has powers given to it by a law. It can prosecute people who harm the public water supply. It can sue to collect the rates set for the supply of water. Anguilla has no Water Authority. The reason is historical, and not a mystery. Our Authority in the past was the Water Board of St Kitts. When we separated from St Kitts, we kept the water law. But, we never set up our own Water Board.

Anguilla never set up any kind of water authority or water board. We never gave any agency in Anguilla the authority to regulate the quality of the water sold to members of the public. We have a Water Department, but it has no statutory recognition. The reason is again historical. Most homes in Anguilla supplied their own water. After Anguilla began to develop in the 1970s, entrepreneurs began to supply water to homes whose cisterns had run dry. In the beginning, the suppliers begged, borrowed or stole it from the cisterns of homes that were unoccupied. No one complained; everyone was happy. Why regulate something that was working perfectly?

Except, the day came when there were not enough cisterns to supply the demand. Various companies began to import their own water making equipment. Some of them manufactured water and sold it to the public. Others, such as the hotels, manufactured water for their own use, and did not sell to the public. None of these water manufacturers and bottlers is regulated by any government agency. At present, we have no control over the quality of water we drink or bathe in. Anguilla is the Wild West when it comes to water. Why does this matter?

The Crocus Bay Water Treatment Facility produces drinkable water by a process of reverse osmosis from sea water. This sea water is pumped up to the plant from nearly half a mile out to sea. This is “pure” sea water. After treatment, this is the water that is distributed in pipes throughout Anguilla. As an exercise in self-discipline, the Facility ensures that its water contains two parts per million of chlorine when it reaches the end user. Compare that to the private manufacturers and sellers of water. These include Anguilla Water Suppliers Ltd of Water Swamp. They manufacture their water drawn from a well in the Farrington. This is the water that is sold and distributed by Island Transport Ltd and National Trucking. There is Charlie’s Quick Water Delivery Service of Long Road. They manufacture their water drawn from a well in Mount Fortune in East End. There is Vanterpool Water Delivery Services. They manufacture water drawn from a well at Welches. This water is all drawn from Anguilla’s aquifer, or water table. Anguilla’s water table is where all the used batteries, the toxic power station and gas station used oils, the septic tanks, and the cemeteries, drain into. None of this well-water is checked, except occasionally when there is a complaint. Even if a problem is discovered with this water, there is no one who is authorized by law to enforce standards. Not that there is any regulation governing water standards that can be enforced in Anguilla.

And, to think that this is the water that I purchase to put in my cistern to drink, and to cook with, and to wash!

The dysentery outbreak we had on the island last year might be just like a simple cold in comparison to what lurks around the corner!

Are you, look a wuk!


  1. For some reason, I was under the impression that the only drinkable water for household use in Anguilla was from the reverse osmosis unit or commercial bottle water. I thought the water delivered by the local water trucks were for construction and other non drinkable purposes. I can't believe the public health in Anguilla is not taken seriously. Do we even know the PFCs levels or mercury contamination of underground water? Has their been an increase of genetic disorders, cancers, mental retardation or psychiatric illnesses on island? I think we shouldn't have to investigate much further where one likely source may be coming from. Many diseases have an enviormental link and a study must be done on all types of water on AXA. Even the reverse osmosis water can have grave implications if certain impurities are not removed. Our oceans are polluted from old rusted ships and sunken airplanes, oil tankers leaking oil, and other toxic waste coming from the developed world. The Atlantic Ocean is a major water way for large cargo.

    The membranes of reverse osmosis are easily degraded by bacteria and other biological pathogens. It's important that they are change regularly. Who is checking that the suppliers of our water is keeping up with safety standards? Who is making sure that they are not putting in the cheapest filters so as to cut cost and improve sales?

    We have a lot of progress to make as it relates to public health policy on AXA.

  2. I commend the first writer for an excellent contribution. Epidemiological information about Anguilla, other than basic stuff like communicable diseases and infant mortality, seems to be a State Secret. This is our fault, because we're more interested in knowing who the Executive Director of the Health Authority is sharing his bed with, believing that if the people pay the rent we have a right to know everything he does in his house. That's important. If old people die from drinking disease-ridden water, "that's just the way the cookie crumbles," as Yanchie says.

    We had this great guy, I think he was Irish, running Environmental health for a while. He got things running, left, and everything's gone to hell. We spent a lot of money equipping a water lab and training people to use it. How is it that it just seems to have disappeared?

  3. Water Standards is important as the label suggests, but there is nothing in Anguilla name standards. Everything is in a mess. I wonder what is going to happen to us. From top to bottom gone to the rut. The civil service, the statutory bodies, What a mess.

  4. These are the people we depend on to protect us when the bird flu gets here. It will come in the fall, when the migratory birds fly south for the winter. Maybe this year, no one knows. Are we ready? Or should we discuss more urgent things like who sleeping in Dexter James bed this week?

  5. That environmentalist was Jerremy Parr... a great guy


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