Letters & Opinion, The Bottom Line

What’s With WASCO’s World Water Day Warning?

By Earl Bousquet

Why would WASCO leave anyone without water for 48 hours, as of the day after World Water Day?

That was the question on minds and tongues of tens-of-thousands of WASCO clients on Wednesday, March 23 – one day after World Water Day – waking-up without a drip of water in their taps.

As a consumer, I didn’t even try to understand why WASCO would’ve chosen World Water Day (March 22) to announce it would be ‘taking water’ for 48 hours.

As a journalist in the communications and messaging business, it also sounded to me like a wet nightmare in broad daylight, for 48 straight hours.

WASCO is currently inviting applications for a new General Manager with 15 responsibilities, but only from persons with ‘a Master’s degree in Business Administration, Management, Economics, Finance or Public Administration, with at least eight years of progressive relevant experience at a senior management position,’ or ‘At least a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering with a post-graduate qualification in management from an accredited university or institution’ — and ‘Remuneration will be commensurate with qualifications and experience.’

My late dad would have asked: ‘What’s all that got to do with me getting the water I’m paying for, coming through my pipe when I open it?’

I almost asked the same question when I read the qualifications required for another job my dad would simply have described as ‘collecting empty bottles…’

He always reminded us: ‘I never climbed the steps of any university, not even to deliver a message…’, but with only one General Certificate of Education (GCE) to my name (done by correspondence course while sailing the world at school), I know I wouldn’t qualify either, for the bottle-collection…

But back to WASCO and World Water Day…

I told a reporter who broached the subject it seemed that without a General Manager to ‘provide the strategic financial and operational leadership’ and ‘assume overall leadership and management responsibility for all aspects of the company’ (as per the advertisement of the Vacancy Notice) WASCO was probably (pun intend) ‘drowning itself’.

Someone had also tried explaining the timing of the WASCO’s shutdown was somehow meant to drive home a message about the importance of ‘Water’ to ‘Life’.

I told the reporter consumers left drowning in a pool of thirstiness will more likely see and feel it as a ‘Peter pay for Paul’ punishment meant for those among us not taking water serious enough.

But then, I also had to consider that I didn’t see or hear any such explanation – and even if I did, I would not have thought it a bright idea.

But all that’s ‘water under the bridge’ today, as, although my tap was still empty when I wrote this column early Thursday morning and I still had to bathe elsewhere, I still had confidence that WASCO would ‘send back’ the Water of Life by this weekend.

Now, with World Forestry Day (March 21) coming one day ahead of World Water Day, a ‘Ground Water Expert’ at the Water Resource Management Unit of the Agriculture Ministry used the island’s continuing water crises to make a case for more reliance on Ground Water to makeup for our WASCO shortcomings.

Of course, it’s a good idea, but I suspect that like with LUCELEC, WASCO may be the only entity entitled to generate local water from ground sources for sale, in which case (if so) there may be limitations to the extent to which the related laws will allow for other private sector competition (like when a former Economic Development Minister launched a Waste-to Electricity project at Deglos to supply electricity to nearby areas, without having read the related electricity supply regulations that give LUCELEL the sole power to generate power for sale in Saint Lucia.

In my four decades covering WASCO — from the days when it was the Central Water Authority through to Water and Sewage Authority (WASA) to the current Water and Sewerage Company — I’ve never been able to distinguish the difference between ‘sewage’ and ‘sewerage’, which terms are used interchangeably to describe the same raw human waste matter being ‘treated’ in a few places, but mainly pouring or being poured-into the sea and/or soaked into the ground through traditional nearby ‘soak-aways’.

WASCO earlier this year recommitted itself to play a leading role in Saint Lucia’s participation in a regional waste water sanitation project called CARIBSAN being funded by the European Union and coordinated out of Paris and neighboring Martinique that also involves Guadeloupe, Dominica and Cuba.

The project demonstrates how the Bird of Paradise plant, easily available on every Caribbean island (including in my yard), can easily and healthily, in a purely natural way, treat waste and waste water without allowing it to drain or sending it into the Caribbean Sea or the Atlantic Ocean.

But still without any explanation if there’s any difference (between sewage and sewerage), I highly-recommend that WASCO adopt the Bird of Paradise as a plant of choice to help treat waste naturally by extending the services of its Beausejour Waste Treatment Plant island-wide (as much as possible) and encouraging hotels to wean themselves off buying WASCO water to water golf courses and flower gardens, wash swimming pools and company vehicles.

That’ll save the hotels a pretty penny and make more WASCO water available for other than sanitation uses at home to flush sewage — or sewerage, whichever sanitized name we may wish to apply.

Meanwhile, after the years of mega construction at the Sir John Compton Dam at Roseau, I still wonder whether the dam is now dammed, or is still damned to be a giant fish pond or a ‘Maga Pond’ for fishy inland demersal species…

At the end of the day, however, its Crystal-Clear that WASCO withholding water (even for good reasons) for 48 hours, as of the day after World Water Day, was closer to a wet dream than a bright idea.

And that’s The Bottom Line!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *