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Antigua and Barbuda

Water resources

Surface water resources, groundwater resources and non-conventional sources of water

The total average rainfall for both islands is estimated at 453 million m3/year and renewable water resources are estimated at about 52 million m3/year (Table 2). There are no perennial rivers in the country, only intermittent rivers where water flows during part of the year, which then can also be stored in ponds and reservoirs. At present the country’s agricultural and municipal (domestic and commercial) water demands are being met by four desalination plants, two surface water treatment plants, numerous small ponds and five well fields.

In Antigua, with a population of about 88 000 people, there are approximately 43 active wells with major well fields located in the Bendals Valley, Bolands and Collins areas. The island has three Reverse Osmosis (RO) desalination plants/systems, the Sembcorp Plant (5.1 million m3/year), the Camp Blizzard Plant (1.0 million m3/year) and the Ffryes Beach Plant (1.0 million m3/year), with a total desalination capacity of approximately 7.1 million m3/year. The Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) tries to rely on surface water and groundwater as much as possible given the inexpensive nature of its production. As a drought prone island, relying on surface water and groundwater often becomes difficult, this creates the need for reverse osmosis. Antigua has two water treatment plants with a total volume of 3.7 million m3, of which Delapps plant accounts for 2.5 million m3 and Bendals plant accounts for 1.2 million m3 (APUA, 2012).

In Barbuda, with a population of less than 2 000 people, most of the water supplied to the population comes from shallow wells. In 2005, the water obtained from wells in the Palmetto Point area was potable but other wells around the island have been found to be saline in content. APUA then installed a Reverse Osmosis (RO) Plant in Barbuda which produces approximately 113.6 m3/day or 0.041 million m3/year to meet the needs of the residents of Barbuda.

Harvesting of rainwater by households contributes an important source of safe drinking water provided the collection and storage system is kept in a hygienically good condition. By law, all new houses are supposed to be equipped with rainwater collection and storage systems. The average size of this storage is 19 m3 and the number of households is approximately 20 000.


Antigua has about 18 medium to small reservoirs and about 550 ponds and earth dams. The total combined capacity of all reservoirs, ponds and mini-dams is approximately 6 million m3 in 2013.

Reservoirs for agricultural purposes have a total capacity of 1 016 000 m3. The main ones are at Bethesda (537 000 m3), ASF Dams (116 000 m3), Langfords (110 000 m3), Gunthorpes (93 000 m3), Red hill (46 000 m3) and Bendals (23 000 m3).

Reservoirs for municipal purposes have a total capacity of 4 976 480 m3. The main ones are at Potworks (4 142 000 m3), Collins (342 000 m3), Dunnings (136 040 m3), Hamilton (104 120 m3), Body Pond (101 460 m3). Collins is not used directly – a number of wells were drilled around it and it provides groundwater recharge for them. Body Pond was destroyed by Hurricane Louis in 1995 and the government is seeking funds to have it rebuilt.

The Fig Tree and Wallings dams are not used by the Water Business Unit. Both provide recreational and nature trail ambiance to persons who visit the area.

It is estimated that there are over 550 ponds, each with capacity less than 1 000 m3. The small ponds are used primarily for agriculture.

Most of the ponds and dams are privately owned and are not under the control of the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, and Housing and the Environment (MALHE) or APUA.

During drier months irrigation is restricted to a very limited area due to shortfall in surface water and groundwater yields, and most surface water storage is diverted to municipal supply. Barbuda’s topography and geology are not well suited to dam construction.


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       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
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