St Kitts ponders desalination plant to counter dry periods

A proposal to build a new desalination plant was among strategies being pursued by the St. Kitts and Nevis ministry of public infrastructure to ensure water supply can meet the growing demand of the population of the Caribbean island duo.

Like many Caribbean countries, the island pair federation experienced below average rainfall in 2015 which lead to near-drought conditions with predictions of similar or worsening conditions in 2016. St. Kitts and Nevis’ minister responsible for public infrastructure, Ian Patches Liburd, told local media recently that the Water Services Department in Basseterre must “continue to rise to the occasion.”

Liburd said this year’s rainfall was about half of the average over earlier years. “The challenges from the record-low rainfall obviously resulted in low surface inflows and of course reduced well water abstraction rates. So new sources of potable water ought to be addressed and we are looking at that as we speak.”

To address the ongoing difficulties, work crews laid some 2km of pipeline from Dieppe Bay to Saddlers to provide access to an additional 1 million litres of water to consumers in the area.

We have taken an approach that we have to get water now,” Liburd said. “We have looked at reverse osmosis desalination. There [has been] a plant at La Vallee for over eight years and we are looking at the possible commissioning of that plant in a particular area of Basseterre.”

He added: “Once that plant is installed, we can get some 6 Ml.” He cited studies dating back to the 1970s, and later, that suggested there were some 55 Ml of water underground and current systems have tapped into about half of that.