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LETTER OF THE DAY - Conserve to survive

Published:Saturday | February 13, 2010 | 12:00 AM


The recent spate of water lock-off is a warning to stop wasting this precious life-giving resource; our population is growing rapidly, our water resources are drying up; we must conserve to survive. According to a BBC report, the world's supply of fresh water is running out. Already, one person in five has no access to safe drinking water. Humans have available less than 0.08 per cent of all the Earth's water. Yet, over the next two decades our use is estimated to increase by about 40 per cent.

It is simply no use griping, we must act!

What individuals can do

Every individual can easily half the domestic water consumption from the National Water Commission (NWC) supply by doing the following:

1. Gutter houses and catch rainwater in storage tanks for domestic use.

2. Use recycled treated water from domestic use to water plants and gardens, etc. (They do this in the US and on a very wide scale in Germany; why not here?).

3. Use steam washers (washing machines) if you can afford the higher purchase price.

4. Use low water consumption toilets.

5. Do flush-fixture retrofits to reduce water consumption in older toilets.

6. Build composting toilets in new buildings including houses - where residents are agreeable.

7. Use low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators; they reduce home water consumption by as much as 50-70 per cent, are inexpensive and simple to install.

What Government can do

What a wonderful example for the country and the region if the Government takes the initiative by immediately implementing these solutions in all government buildings, inclusive of the houses of all ministers of Government! If members of parliament and councillors could start the ball rolling in their various constituencies by adopting these suggestions it would certainly be easier to convince residents!


  • Remove or reduce tax on items such as gutters, downspouts, water filters, flush fixture retro-fits, low-flow showerheads, equipment for recycling and treating recycled water (some of these can be made from alumina - which we have the raw material to produce in abundance).
  • Mandate that National Housing Trust (NHT) build all new houses with these critical water-saving features - offering homeowners the option of a composting toilet in each unit at the same cost as a regular low water consumption bathroom.
  • Give low-cost loans from NHT and other institutions to homeowners who qualify to make the necessary modifications to existing houses; partner with private banks to pass on concessionary rates.
  • Open up the competition for architectural designs for environmentally friendly buildings, using sustainable resources such as solar and wind energy and rainwater, to students and professionals.
  • Change to a practical Building Construction Curriculum in institutions of higher learning - University of Technology, VTDI and other HEART Trust institutions and University of the West Indies, where students will now be taught to examine, design and construct:

    i) Long-term solutions such as underground catchment tanks, air and/or roof tanks as a mandatory feature for all new houses.

    ii) Gravity-fed and pneumatically pumped tank water, as opposed to electrically pumped water, where there is no solar or wind energy.

    iii) Pneumatically pumped recycled treated water for gardening.

  • Eliminate water wastage from NWC pipes by improving current technology and through regular preventative maintenance and prompt remedial measures.
  • Import skilled professionals in the areas above while we send some of our best minds to train and return to the classroom and/or apprenticeship programmes so we can have skilled craftsmen/artisans and engineers in even the most remote villages.

    The ideas above can spawn whole new industries, expand existing ones and create a plethora of coveted and sustainable green jobs, which will improve our quality of life significantly. This is an additional blessing in a period of serious economic downturn.

    We will never be able to eliminate droughts; God can and will do that eventually. With global warming, there will be more prolonged droughts interspersed with floods; we can reduce the negative effects of these with foresight and planning.

    Every good gift and every perfect present comes from God; let's be grateful and use each gift wisely, starting with one of His greatest gifts - our brain, which is capable of conceiving wonderful ideas and bringing them to fruition.

    I do hope at least one educator reaches out and responds to this.

    I am, etc.,


    c/o HEART Trust/NTA