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Conservation via house tanks

Published:Thursday | April 15, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The Editor, Sir:

As we continue to experience the worst drought in recent memory and the inadequacies of the measuresat the national levelfor accessing, storing and distributing water in 'Xaymaca - land of wood and water', I want to address the possibility of how individuals (some at least) can contribute to helping the situation.

In some small-island countries - Anguilla, Bermuda and, I believe, the British Virgin Islands - where there are no rivers and insufficient underground sources, the principal supply of water comes from rain collected fromroofs and stored in tanks built under some sections of the houses. (These tanks are, I believe, mandatory for receiving approval to build.)

Recommended proportions

Influenced by this knowledge, some years ago, when making an addition of a small patio to our family house, I built a tank under the floor with a capacity of 1,200 gallons. Water is collected from roof guttering and with a sieve at the point of entry to the tank that filters out any debris from the roof, which is also cleaned regularly. Bleach or chlorine in the recommended proportions is added to the water, which enters the house pipes with the use of an electric pump. The tank is also connected to the National Water Commission (NWC) supply, so water can also be collected from that source. While that proves to be critical during droughts and limited NWC water supply, the water collected is usually (often exclusively) from rainfall.

This water, collected as described above, is entirely suitable for all purposes except for drinking, and then the obvious safeguard is to boil it. I am surprised to hear some people suggest that collected rain water is only suitable for watering plants and washing cars. Bermuda, a country which enjoys a far higher standard of living than Jamaica, has had no problem managing to sustain a relatively healthy population, and, in any event, we are more fortunate in that the stored rain water would only need to be a supplementary source.

I encourage any who may be in a position to act as I did to implement this self-help measure. I know that life has been a lot less unpleasant for my household during this period when the norm for so many has been 'bathing in a bucket'.

I am, etc.,


Kingston 6