NASSAU, Bahamas, October 14, 2014 (AMG) — The Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) recently held its annual conference in the Bahamas, where several hundred local and international, water, waste, and solid waste practitioners and organizations from around the world converged to discuss the conference theme of Water, Waste, and Energy in the Caribbean.

Workshops and technical sessions included issues such as water risk and disasters, climate change and health, certification for water utilities, among others. Partners for the conference included the Global Water Operators partnership, the Pan-American Health Organization, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Environment Program, and the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute.

Major takeaways: One important issue at the conference was the need to include water in all development planning. The Hon. Philip Davis, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development of the Bahamas, told delegates that the emergent and correlated issues of water, waste, and energy, “have the potential to result in a serious downward spiral of our fragile economies” if left unaddressed in future development. Davis urged the efficient use of water and energy, and stated that simply looking at the basic methods of treatment and disposal are not enough.

As one example, the Bahamas Water and Sewage Corporation developed a 10-year comprehensive water efficiency project that began in 2012. The project was funded by an Inter-American Development Bank loan, and resulted in providing consistent water supply and pressure for all resident of New Providence in September 2013. The project plans to drastically reduce water lost through leaks in desalination systems, resulting in saving of 4 million gallons of clean water every day.

The conference included talks and workshops on topics such as: solutions for treating fecal coliform in rainwater harvesting systems, turbidity challenges, communicating the value of water, public sector partnership, the development of a water poverty index, and nonpoint source pollution management, as well as a host of others.

The Bahamian Prime Minster, Perry Christie, said, “All of the many small nations in the region acknowledge the challenges that water, waste, and energy present…. This conference provides us with an ideal opportunity to share experiences and strategies to resolve common problems and improve living standards in each and every island.

Water issues and SIDS: Small island developing states (SIDS) face particular challenges in water management. They are constrained by their size, often fragile environmental and economic systems, isolation, and limited human and natural resources. The CWWA seeks to overcome and adapt to these challenges, and the annual conference brings experts from around the world to further that goal. The 2015 conference will be held in Miami, Florida in August 2015.

The CWWA is a regional non-governmental organization that works towards the protection of public health and the promotion of sustainable development. It aims to promote education and training in water supply, wastewater, and solid waste disposal, and well as to encourage research and technological advances in water and wastewater systems.

Image: Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie (second from left) together with CWWA president Lennox O’Reilly Lewis (second from right) and other delegates at the official opening of the CWWA Conference and Exhibition on Monday night. (Credit: CWWA)

Water conference sheds light on challenges and innovations of Caribbean nations

Alison Singer

Alison Singer has been writing about environmental issues for years, and has a particular interest in climate change. She lives in Washington, D.C., where she works for the US Government and writes for a variety of organizations.

Category: Sustainability