Guadeloupe: The Water Days

 by Snap under Creative Common licence

In The French-speaking Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, also dubbed “the Island with Beautiful Waters”, water is vital. It is all the more central since it defines the two seasons of the Guadeloupean climate either because it is scarce or because it is plentiful: “Carême” is a 6 month-long dry season and “Hivernage” is a 4 month-long hurricane and rainy season. Unquestionably, Guadeloupeans not only depend on the availability of water resources but also on the quality of this precious liquid.

This is the reason why 46 years ago, the Syndicat Intercommunal de l'Alimentation en Eau et d'Assainissement de la Guadeloupe [Fr] (Intermunicipal Syndicate of Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation) appeared among Guadeloupean institutions. At first, it started providing water to three cities and now it offers services to thirteen out of the thirty-six municipalities in Guadeloupe. But today, the syndicate has to face a great number of issues that range from technical difficulties to environmental questions and they have, for the last eight years, organized les Journées de l'Eau en Guadeloupe (Water Days in Guadeloupe) in order to share their thoughts and projects with the professionals and the public. Blogger JarryCafé [Fr] who specializes in the daily life of Jarry, the economic center of Guadeloupe, promotes the 5 day conference:

Du 13 au 17 octobre venez vous informer au WTC de Jarry sur les problématiques environnementales de l’eau et ses enjeux dans les années à venir.

From October 13th to 17th, come to the WTC in Jarry and get information about the environmental issues related to water and about the stakes for the years to come.

Stakes are numerous indeed and Guadeloupean blogger Indiscrétions [Fr] reports on different topics discussed by the president of the syndicate, like the deterioration of the waterways and the water purification plants, the huge waste of water and the possibility to stock water in case of droughts. Besides these concerns, it seems that for years now a great environmental catastrophe has captured the interest of the Guadeloupean population, the Kepone crisis and Indiscrétions reports the president's cautious statement about it [Fr]:

Il y a eu des générations d'agriculteurs qui ont utilisé des produits phytosanitaires qui ont pollué les nappes d'eau, surtout en Basse-Terre. On dit qu'il y a des eaux polluées…

Generations of farmers have used phytosanitary products which have polluted the ground water, mostly in Basse-Terre. Some people say that the waters are contaminated…

GaïaSoleil also explains that the Kepone pollution in Guadeloupean waters, among other topics, will be tackled during the course of the conference [Fr]:

Le problème de la pollution de rivières à la chlordécone est certes dans toutes les têtes lors de ces journées. Cette catastrophe écologique n’est qu’un aspect de la pollution générale des milieux aquatiques : d’autres produits phytosanitaires et d’autres pollutions, dont celles pouvant être occasionnés par les déchets ou les vidanges sauvages sont en cause.

The problem of Kepone pollution in rivers is certainly in everyone's mind during these conference days. However, this environmental catastrophe is only a part of the overall water pollution: other phytosanitary products and other types of pollution are at stake, as the one caused by waste and evacuation.

Domactu has also mentioned the event and highlighted the regional cooperation implied by the theme of the conference [Fr]: “eaux: nécessité, vérités et solidarités dans la Caraïbe” (water, necessity, truths and solidarities in the Caribbean). GaïaSoleil also insists on this feature as it presents the foreign guests and their collaboration to this conference [Fr]:

…les intervenants de Cuba, de République Dominicaine, d’Haïti ont eu l’occasion d’exposer les problématiques de l’eau sur leurs territoires et les solutions qu’ils ont choisies.

…the participants from Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Haiti had a chance to introduce the water issues in their countries and the solutions they have chosen to implement.

This last quote from Indiscretion is all the more central since it goes beyond the Guadeloupean concern for its waters and echoes a widespread feeling among Caribbean people: isolation and lack of regional cooperation [Fr]:

…Je vous parlais de l'eau de la Dominique pour irriguer Marie-Galante. J'ai vu, à Santo Domingo, une station d'épuration qui fonctionne parfaitement, qui coûte moins cher à la construction que tout ce que nous avons. Il faut regarder ce qui se fait autour de nous. Nous avons beaucoup à donner, beaucoup à apprendre.

…I was telling you about water coming from Dominica to irrigate crops in Marie-Galante. In the Dominican Republic, I have seen a water purification plant which works perfectly well and is less expensive to build than all we have. We have to look around us. We have a lot to give and a lot to learn.

The image used in this post, “The World of Water”, is by Snap®, used under a Creative Commons License. Visit Snap®'s flickr photostream.

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