Dominica tourists and residents can rest easy. According to a Nov. 22, 2016 statement from the Dominica Water and Sewerage Company Limited (DOWASCO), the water quality in Dominica follows World Health Organization requirements and is safe to drink.
On November 21, 2016, Dominica was rattled with social media rumors claiming that the water caused illness in two tourists, resulting in one’s death. The viral message, spread through WhatsApp, warned readers to boil water before drinking after an investigation revealed toxins affecting the liver.
The next day, DOWASCO swiftly responded, advising that the water was tested daily, and during the September-November 2016 testing period, the presence of coliform bacteria was at zero or less than one colony-forming unit per 100 millimeters. DOWASCO reported that these results were within World Health Organization (WHO) drinking water guidelines. Results in hand, DOWASCO fired back at the rumor, calling them “baseless and slanderous and against the best interest of the public.”
Despite DOWASCO’s assurances, the Dominican government swiftly entered the fray to conduct its own investigation. On November 23, 2016, the Ministry of Health (MoH) held a press conference to address the issue. Chief Medical Officer David Johnson supported DOWASCO’s statement and reiterated that the rumor was without merit and caused unwarranted concern to residents and visitors.
Johnson reported that the MoH actively monitors drinking water quality in Dominica through weekly field tests, biweekly bacteriological analyses and annual sanitary assessments of all the water collection points in Dominica. He stated that the samples are even sent to other labs, like the Caribbean Public Health Agency, for further referral.
Johnson concurred with DOWASCO’s findings regarding the water quality in Dominica and reassured the public that the Ministry of Health had no worries about the quality of the island’s drinking water.
Concerning the rumor that someone died due to water contamination, Johnson stated that the country in which the alleged death occurred must investigate and report the issue to the WHO. He advised that if the death is determined to be a result of drinking water quality originating from a foreign visit, Dominica would receive a report.
Johnson indicated that the MoH was very concerned and was actively collaborating with the WHO to get to the source of the rumor.
– Gisele Dunn