Water management is top priority
Thursday, September 20 2012
FUNDING for a water management and flood mitigation plan — with a focus on drainage in high risk areas — is a main focus of the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources in this year’s budget.
“We are looking at a water management and flood mitigation plan and institutional changes. The drainage department has not changed to respond to our new realities,” Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Ganga Singh told reporters yesterday.
The Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) and the Water Resources Unit, he said were also preparing for an upcoming harsh drought season. “That is bound to impact on us,” Singh said after the opening ceremony of a sensitisation seminar on Multilateral Environmental Agreement at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya.
WASA and the Water Resources Division of the ministry, he said were planning ahead on how to deal with the drought issue. In addition, he said the Environmental Management Agency could expect in the new fiscal year 100 environmental police through the current Special Reserve Police recruitment drive to enforce environmental laws. At present the EMA has eight environmental police in Trinidad, and seven in Tobago.
“Enforcement,” he said, “is the missing component to bring about the culture change that is critical for environmental protection, and for noise and air pollution.” The enhanced security, he said, would also help to enforce new legislation expected to come on stream in the current session of parliament.
This will include the beverages and containers bill, and a new wildlife policy in terms of wildlife legislation. Singh expressed concern at the increase in hunting and the decimation of the wildlife population and its impact on the country’s biodiversity.
In terms of drainage, he said there has to be a paradigm shift in the thinking of drainage, including institutional changes. Caroni, which supplies 40 percent of potable water, he said was critically important to the drainage issue.
The wetlands and forestry division, drainage, water resources, and the EMA, he said were all integral to the drainage issue. The consultancy, Genivar, he noted has done a $53 million master plan for WASA for institutional development. Though the plan was never completed, he said relevant excerpts of the plan were taken out and implemented. At present, he said 300 of these projects were at various stages of implementation.