Known for its beautiful beaches, tropical weather and delicious foods, Trinidad and Tobago is a dual-island Caribbean nation and a favorite vacation destination. The vast majority of its citizens live in Trinidad. Even though tourism accounts for less than 1 percent of Trinidad and Tobago’s entire economic output, about half of Tobago’s 60,000 residents are employed in the industry. Due to tourism’s importance, the government is extremely concerned with water quality in Trinidad and Tobago.
- Trinidad and Tobago have had issues with water quality in the past. In 2012, a “black, poisonous liquid run-off” from the Guanapo Landfill was discovered to have been polluting nearby water sources for 30 years. In 2009, the tap water in Arima, a Trinidadian borough, was found to have a level of mercury 150 percent greater than the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard for inorganic chemicals.
- As of Feb. 17, Trinidad and Tobago’s Water and Sewage Authority (WASA) confirmed that the water it treats is safe to drink. The safe drinking water includes the water sources affected by the landfill mentioned above. Parliament established the WASA in 1965 to provide citizens throughout both islands with clean water.
- In 2015, improved water sources in Trinidad and Tobago were available to 95 percent of the population, a three percent increase from the 1990s.
- Another motivation for maintaining the water quality in Trinidad and Tobago is reverence for the ocean among the population. In a feature on this subject, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) technical adviser Neila Bobb Prescott told U.N. News about a number of local customs: After a child is born, they are taken to the beach to dip their feet in the saltwater to mark the occasion and “bring them to the age.” Prescott went on to say that people go to the ocean when they are having emotional and physical problems; some even drink a bit of saltwater to soothe an upset stomach.
- The WASA anticipates that the city of San Fernando’s population will rise to 111,600 by 2035. To accommodate this, it launched the San Fernando Wastewater Project. The goal is to construct a new wastewater treatment plant in the same place as the current one and replace all such plants currently operating within the project’s borders.
A year after construction began, contractor Triple ‘A’ Water Treatment Plant Limited said it had underpriced the project. To rectify this, the Inter-American Development Bank, which is already financing the project, agreed to provide the contractor with a $10 million second advance payment along with an attachment of terms and conditions.
While the water quality in Trinidad and Tobago has fluctuated, the citizens and government continue to do their best to keep it safe and clean.
– Jada Haynes