04 June, 2007

Water Testing

Anguilla’s Water Lab. We are looking at the alarming state of Anguilla’s unregulated water supply. The absence of a functioning Water Lab is only understandable when viewed in the context of Anguilla as a frontier society. A frontier society is usually one that is more informal, democratic, self-reliant and egalitarian. By definition, it is also a lawless one. To this day, we Anguillians are not amenable to regulation of any kind. There is no expectation that any internationally recognised standards apply to anything we do in Anguilla. The disposition of the average Anguillian and, increasingly, of everyone who has come to reside in Anguilla, is that Authority in Anguilla can safely be ignored. There is little or no national dialogue on what Anguilla’s future is to be. The print-media and radio call-in programmes oscillate between extremes of complacency and the occasional call for violence and death. The political directorate shows no stomach for planning or principle. Only the squeaky wheel is said to get some oil in Anguilla. There are no squeaks coming out of the Environmental Health Unit. Anguilla’s water supply system is a victim of this lack of vision, absence of planning, and putting aside of principle.

Anguilla has no functioning Water Lab. What that means is that Anguilla’s water supply is not regularly tested. Water lab technicians do, I am assured, take samples of the piped public water supply from time to time. These samples are sent off to a kind and cooperative laboratory in nearby St Maarten for testing. God knows what they test for. Such information is not public and is not accessible, at least to me. No one would dare to suggest that the private suppliers of water for domestic use should be regulated or even tested. When there is a specific complaint made by a member of the public, eg, of seeing lumps of feces in a pond near to a hotel, the Anguilla Water Lab personnel visit to take a sample. They get it tested in St Maarten. The results are not public. There are no consequences for failure to meet standards. The testing does not result in an improvement in the quality of the toilet waste disposal.

Enquiries reveal that none of the hotels in Anguilla has a properly functioning toilet treatment system. Effluent is pumped into nearby ponds, or out to sea, without regulation or even concern. No one in Anguilla remarks on it. Pump trucks clear any overflowing septic tanks, and dispose of the waste. Better not ask where they dump it. I could show you photographs. I could take you to some of the grounds where the waste is dumped near to where children play. There is no regulation on the statute books in Anguilla applying to this waste disposal activity. There is no licensing procedure for the pump trucks. The Environmental Health Unit personnel do not even know who engages in this activity. They have told me so. The Public Health department has no authority over these service providers. I would venture to suggest that, if anyone recommended that such a state of affairs was unacceptable in Anguilla, and should be corrected, there would be a public uproar. This, after all, is a frontier society. Anything goes. Freedom to the people!


  1. In the 2005 United Front Manifesto, one of the stated health sector programme priorities is "Determination of the fesibility of re-establishing a Department of Environmental Health to strengthen the delivery of enrinmental health services."

    This seems to imply that the Department no longer existed in 2005, but maybe it might be a good idea to have one. This is very confusing, but I'm sure everything is fine because our Minister of Health knows all about this kind of stuff, don't he?

  2. Minister of Health is the biggest stumbling block find out how his inaction has affected the healh authority

  3. The Pan American Health Organization has a report on the health siutation in Anguilla at

    They say: "Treatment and testing of groundwater is done by the Water Laboratory."

    We learn that no testing is being done at the water lab, so this is no longer true. What groundwater are they treating? How do they know if this alleged treatment is effective, if they can't test the water? Did PAHO just make up this information or did someone here tell them? Who? Was it true? Is it true today? Why is information about public health - our health and that of our children - a State Secret?

    It is not useful to tell Justice Mitchell to "find out" things, when everything is a secret and people are afraid to talk. If you know someone who has useful facts and details and might speak to him in confidence, it would be good if you would let him know how to contact them.

  4. The World Health Organization and UNICEF did a public water supply survey in Anguilla which was updated in June 2006.

    They report that in 1995, 45% of urban residences were connected to a water main, as were 60% of all urban locations. They further report that in 2004 these figures remaned the same, and that in 2004 no one at all in rural areas had public water service. Urban and rural are not defined.

    Someone from here sent them these numbers. Someone we probably pay rather well. I wonder who dat be.

    For years we have heard countless tiresome speeches about how the water system was being upgraded, but they report to the UN that nothing changed in nine years. I wonder if they're lying to us or lying to the UN.

  5. The Official Gazette of Tuesday 29 May 2007 was circulated today, 4 June. I have just picked up a copy. I notice that it contains a new Act. It is called the Water and Wells Act, 2007. It allows Government to regulate the abstraction of groundwater and seawater. It enables the Minister to make Regulations.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but it still does not establish any kind of water authority. There is no provision for water sold to the public to meet any kind of standards. There is a mention of a “water analyst” to be appointed. But, there are no provisions for water standards or for mandatory testing of water sold to the public. Basically, all the Act does is to permit Government to charge companies who extract and sell water. Any onerous standards set by Regulation will be outside the powers of this Act.

    The Act is worse than useless, in my opinion. It is a fraud on the public welfare.

  6. In a 2002 report by the Caribbean Development Bank http://tinyurl.com/2heawn we told them that 97% of the rural population has access to safe drinking water. Does "access" mean at home, or walking down the road for miles with a can on my head, like in the old days? Or does access mean it's perfectly safe, as long as I boil it first?

    Or maybe, since 97% of us have access to stores, it's a reference to bottled water.

    I hope the Minister is found soon, so he can explain all this technical stuff to us.

  7. You may not know about a water authority. I may not know about a water authority. But on page 93 of the Caribbean Development Bank report our government has found someone to blame for the increase in water rates. "The privatisation of the Anguillian Water Authority has lead to an increase in costs of potable water supplies".

    PAHO said this in a report updated in 2001
    "The Anguilla Water Authority is responsible for the planning, construction, operation, and maintenance of water supply works. Treatment and testing of groundwater is the responsibility of the Anguilla Water Authority, while the Environmental Health Department carries out inspection and treatment of cisterns. The Environmental Health Department does not conduct water quality surveillance, and monitoring by the Water Authority is not continuous."

    There are two separare agencies doing water testing. So everything's all right then.

  8. The 2000 United Front Manifesto promised to give "priority to Environmental Health Services, recognizing that Anguilla is part of the global economy necessitating vigilance in programmes such as port health, food health, vector control, water monitoring, occupational health and safety and solid and liquid waste management".

  9. If you Google “water testing” or “water testing UK” you get lots of hits where various manufacturers sell kits etc and explain what they can do. (For example http://www.palintest.com/). Presumably these testing devices will also indicate if the water quality is below certain acceptable benchmarks. So the only other part of the mystery can be how often EHD people test water and whether they test some sources or locations more frequently than others (or at all). If there is no schedule or programme, they may as well not have the water testing laboratory or technology.

    For the record it says here at http://tinyurl.com/yrd3mg that swimming pools (like hotels and dolphin pools presumably) should be tested 5-6 times a day or once every couple of hours. Sounds like a full-time job for someone from EHD to go round to all these places and to check their logs and observe testing being done. Also, to go to a place and take water samples unannounced and to check the findings with the in-house finding. Any obvious blatant discrepancy should result in the place being closed until further notice.

  10. When Dr. Jeremy Parr left here a few years ago we had a fully functioning water lab, we had Anguillians trained to use it, and they were doing periodic, unannounced sampling of hotel swimming pools, the popular beaches, The Valley aquafer, the dolphin pit and I don't know what else.

    Today, we no longer have a functioning water lab. What does that mean? Is it broken? Did somebody tief it? Did somebody sell it to buy drugs? Were the Environmental Health people paid off by the dolphin prison like the Planning guy may have been? What is the problem? Can it be corrected or will it ever be so until we all die of terminal diarrhea?

    If all this has been deemed to be a State Secret and no one will talk about it, don't blame me for assuming there is some serious bad stuff going on that they don't want me to know about. What problem is this coverup the answer to?


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