and the extent of sea level rise throughout the country. It can provide a vulnerability map of the areas inundated with water to plan for effects on tourism and agriculture.
One of the largest challenges is that water is not treated as an economic good. Some countries in the Caribbean have a metering policy in place, and other countries, such as Trinidad, do not. Even when metering is in place, tariffs are relatively low. Thus the current rating structure does not penalize wastage. In order to combat these challenges, the area is starting to recognize that water needs to be recycled to reduce the demand on the potable water supplies by moving toward an integrative water management approach that focuses on conservation. One of the essential features is the inclusion of reverse-osmosis filtration technology to treat sewage to a very high-quality standard for reuse.
Furthermore, as governments discuss strategies for mitigation of climate change, water resource management needs to be planned for extreme events, not based on historical data or trends. Such a strategy will encompass the design of larger storage reservoirs to accommodate long dry spells or short periods of higher intensity rainfall. Urban catchment areas need to collect and pump runoff from the catchment area to storage reservoirs, similar to the strategies being employed in Singapore.
Another strategy for the region, which is already being employed in Trinidad, is the use of desalinated technologies to produce potable water. Trinidad’s desalination facility produces 24 million imperial gallons of water per day. It is expensive, but, for some countries, it is necessary.
Through the development of the Global Water Partnership, the region is supporting an integrated, sustainable approach to water resources by working closely with the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association, the United Nations Environmental Programme, the Integrated Watershed and Coastal Areas Management Program, and various nongovernmental organizations. The mission is to support countries in the sustainable management of their water resources. Currently, there are 40 partners from 16 different countries. The Global Water Partnership is committed to a participatory approach to development of water resources in the region and to treating water as a finite resource. Part of the outreach is at the ministerial level, to have top down support, although the organization believes that all stakeholders should be involved in the development of sustainable policies. Some examples of this approach include establishing a rainwater-harvesting model for poor rural communities in the Caribbean that can be easily adaptable to each island’s specific needs.