THE EDITOR, Sir:
Every year about this time, those in authority suddenly realise that this is traditionally the dry season and get into a panic about water shortage. Predictably, as soon as the first shower falls, all this is forgotten until January of the following year. We are as unprepared as the biblical foolish virgins.
The National Water Commission maintains that it is cheaper to store water underground while billions of gallons run to waste in the rainy season. The last major storage facility was built in the 1940s when the population of Kingston was a fraction of what it is today and the demand for water much less.
If we keep pumping from wells, soon we will be drinking seawater because of the heavy demand from that source, ranging from domestic to industrial and agricultural purposes.
Recently, I heard talk about harvesting rainwater, as if this was a new idea. A tank was a part of many of the older homes in Manchester, with gutters leading from the roof collecting rainwater. Many of these tanks were built even before the house was erected. During the late 1960s to '80s, Government gave assistance to build concrete tanks in many parts of the island. This idea would still be useful, especially in the rural hilly areas where it is difficult to run pipes.
In colonial days, many large tanks or reservoirs, commonly known as parish tanks, were built. In Tortola and some other Caribbean islands, a permit to build a house is not granted unless a tank is going to be built under the basement or other suitable place. Animals used to drink from ponds and streams from rainwater and many ladies did their laundry at those places.
Admittedly, it may not be possible to eliminate trucking of water for a while, but the money spent on trucks over the years could have expanded the tank-building scheme considerably. It is a sign of backwardness to see people carrying water on their heads in this day and age - even when a drought is not on.
Maybe little projects like tank building are not enough to attract TV coverage to give the ministers a chance to 'profile' to the public. Big projects are useful to the country, but it is the little farmer in the hills that will keep the country going.
We are looking forward to dry season 2014 when the same old Sankey will be sung.