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Water management, policies and legislation related to water use in agriculture
The Dominica Water and Sewerage Company (DOWASCO) is the sole organization responsible for the management of the water resources. It is a private company, incorporated by an Act of Parliament. It has an exclusive license, granted by the Minister of Communication and Works, to abstract and utilize the water resources of the country. It is charged with the development of the resource and for any research, data collection, projection and maintenance and development of new sources. This license was granted in 1989 for 25 years. Anyone else wishing to distribute water must therefore get a sub-license from DOWASCO. This organization has no obligation to develop or provide water for agriculture.
The Dominica Electricity Services (DOMLEC) is in charge of the hydropower generation.
Other institutions related to water resources management are the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, Physical Planning and Fisheries, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
Though Dominica is well known as ‘the land of many rivers’ and it is perceived that the country has an abundant source of water to meet all its needs, the reality is that this resource is finite and impacted by development, human activities and climate variability.
There is a lack of water resources governance in a holistic manner as no water resources management policy, strategy, plans or legislative framework are in place. With the growing demand for water, the inadequate institutional structure, ineffective land-use management, limited public understanding of integrated water resources management (IWRM), a lack of data and information to support decisions and legislation that needs updating, appropriate actions should be undertaken. The government, in its commitment to ensure sustainable national development, recognizes the contribution of effective management of water resources to its continued social and economic growth (IWCAM, 2011).
A license is needed to abstract water and to sell water, and royalties and fees must be paid based on the type of use for which the water is required. A tariff system also exists for drinking water supply. The tariff structure for water supply and sewerage was designed more as a function of affordability to pay than to reflect the economic value. In addition, public standpipes and public facilities are provided in communities for persons to access drinking water. There is no direct charge for the water obtained from standpipes, but the government pays DOWASCO on a monthly basis for this service (IWCAM, 2011).
Policies and legislation
The Water and Sewerage Act (1991) of the revised laws states the government’s water policy. The Act generally speaks about the orderly and coordinated development, use and conservation of Dominica’s water resources. It also makes the DOWASCO responsible for the supply of water to all residents of the country.
There are several other laws related to water resources management, such as the Physical Planning Act (2002), the Development and Planning Corporation Act (1972), the Agricultural Small Tenancies Ordinance (1953), the Pesticides Control Act and Regulations, the Crown Lands Ordinance, the Forestry Act, the Health Act and the National Development Corporation Act (1988). They however are usually not considered within the formal management framework, because there is no coordination among related institutions (IWCAM, 2011).