Heat in the place

Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales - Grevic Alvarado
Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales - Grevic Alvarado

On Wednesday, the Health Ministry issued a formal warning about what would have been clear to anyone stepping outdoors during the day over the last few weeks.

The ministry warned that the heat in TT posed a danger to public health, particularly during peak hours between 10 am and 3 pm, urging citizens to keep hydrated by drinking at least eight to ten glasses of water a day. Saturday's rainfall reprieve was welcome, but not a signal to relax such cautions.

It was no surprise then to find that an earnest post on Facebook by the Water and Sewerage Authority on Mother's Day was met by vigorous trolling, as citizens deprived of running water made their unhappiness with its service clear.

It wasn't surprising to find the Public Utilities Minister showing up in person soon thereafter to turn on a ceremonial tap at Corosal in Gran Couva on Wednesday, marking the arrival of pipe-borne water to the community, enabled by a new booster station.

The community never had pipe-borne water before last week.

The initiative is part of the Community Water Improvement Programme started three years ago by the Public Utilities Ministry and WASA to deliver on the authority's decades-old promise of "water for all."

In an era of climate change which finds average daily temperatures reaching new heights in the dry season, WASA's role is evolving beyond convenience to life-saving necessity.

It isn't the only public utility being called on to deliver as citizens cope with patterns of weather that bring higher average temperatures along with storms during the dry season.

On Thursday, T&TEC issued a statement that it recorded a notable rise in consumer demand this May with national electricity use peaking at an all-time high of 1456.2 megawatts of power draw on May 15.

That surpassed previous peak demand recorded on September 13, 2023, which at 1410MW was not just the highest single day of electricity use in 2023, but in the history of the utility's supply to the country.

Much of this electricity draw is directly attributable to increased and prolonged use of air conditioning as hot conditions persisted well into the night this month. The TT Meteorological Office warned that both day and night temperatures were expected to be above average until at least June.

Saturday's bad weather resulted in flash floods and damage to houses in South Trinidad while WASA faces extreme evaporation of its reservoirs.

TT must be better prepared for the changes being wrought by climate change, and that must begin with the operations of public utilities, which cannot proceed as if the demands on their services aren't changing dramatically.


"Heat in the place"

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