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Water Quality in the Bahamas

Water Quality
New Providence, the most populated island in the Bahamas, uses about 11 million gallons of groundwater a day.

The Bahamas has been unable to meet the demands of the 11 million gallons of groundwater since the mid-1970s. This led to the emergence of barging water from North Andros due to strict rationing.

Rising sea levels are expected over the next several decades. This may create wetlands, which are freshwater resources that would provide the country’s means of water quality and survival. The method of desalting sea water by means of reverse osmosis is used to maintain a level of water quality in the Bahamas today. This suggests that water does not currently come from a supply of clean, fresh water sources.

The country is vulnerable to compromised freshwater from storm surges, which cause saltwater inundation in aquifers in many cases and threatens the country’s water quality.

A major concern of the water quality in the Bahamas is the proliferation of private shallow water wells, including domestic and hotel wells. Dangerous elements such as nitrates, pathogens and other substances compromise the groundwater quality when these wells are developed due to on-site sanitation. As a result, Bahamians are at great risk to contamination.

Water quality in the Bahamas is not up to standard, due to critical sanitary problems in the country. The main sources of the water contamination are from septic tanks, soakaways and pit latrines. These issues are all major risks to water quality in the Bahamas and the overall health of its citizens.

Due to over-abstraction, physical disturbance, point source pollution, solid waste disposal, disposal wells and septic tanks, the water quality in the Bahamas is threatened. The majority of Bahamians are encouraged to use bottled water, even though the Water & Sewerage Corporation practices desalination by reverse osmosis and the water satisfies both the World Health Organization and U.K. guidelines for chemical, physical and biological parameters.

Rochelle R. Dean

Photo: Flickr