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Saint Kitts and Nevis
Water management, policies and legislation related to water use in agriculture
Water resources management and development fall under the purview of the Water Services Department (WSD). There is no relevant legislation in place for the development of water for the agricultural sector. The Departments of Agriculture are responsible for coordinating efforts to develop the irrigation and drainage sector.
Water resources are vulnerable to sea level rise and temperature increase, leading to higher evaporation rates. Primarily the groundwater resources need to be maintained and protected. Adaptation measures would include: rational use of available water enforced by the national water authority; controlled rate of pumping from aquifers; conservation of protective forests that allows a high rate of infiltration of rainfall to the aquifers; protection of contamination of groundwater from pollution sources (UNDP, 2012).
An expanding tourism/hotel sector has the largest need for water supply. The WSD does not cater for irrigated agriculture, but has however accommodated the requests of some livestock owners. Because of the relatively high consumption and water scarcity situation, requests from crop farmers are rarely given consideration.
The Department of Agriculture, Saint Kitts, considers the lack of water for supplementary irrigation in the dry season as the major constraint to achieving one of its primary goals: year-round production of selected vegetables.
Constraints to water and irrigation development include:
- high cost of exploratory drilling
- high cost of irrigation development per unit area
- difference in altitude between farms and the groundwater aquifers near sea level
- small catchment areas, which limit the maximum size of reservoirs
- inaccessibility of mountain springs
Operational sustainability is contingent on the pricing of water services to recover full costs and investing the capital raised in operation and maintenance to provide improved service standards. This needs to be supported by the recognition that while water is a social good, it also has economic value and hence there needs to be greater effort at cost recovery. To achieve this there needs to be a better level of information, knowledge and understanding of water resources, the nature and extent of the demands on water resources, contributing conditions and the macro-economic and development context within which they are situated. Securing financing and investment is affected by government’s high level of indebtedness and resultant difficulties in allocating resources in the national budget.
Policies and legislation
The Government of Saint Kitts and Nevis considers access to drinking water a basic human right and has therefore, to the extent that resources allow, implemented the following policies (GoSKN, 2004):
- Ensure that water-bearing aquifers are protected from pollution and that abstraction rates do not exceed natural rates of replenishment
- Ensure, through locational planning and control, that accessibility to safe piped water is maximized to all settlements year round
- Ensure protection of well-fields through effective development control and management