Rainwater harvesting is an option that has been adopted in many areas of the world where conventional water-supply systems have failed to meet people’s needs. It can assure an independent water supply during water restrictions and is usually of acceptable quality for household needs and renewable at acceptable volumes.
Leslie Simpson, natural resources management specialist at the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), said last week that Caribbean territories are skirting around the issue of adequate rainwater harvesting. Simpson said adequate policies and measures should be drafted and implemented to ensure countries in the region begin to properly assess the importance of rainwater harvesting.
“Our main source of water is rainfall and we have to ensure that we utilise as much of that rainfall as possible. Too much of the rain that falls goes straight to the rivers and then to sea. We have to ensure that water is getting down to the soil, going to the subsurface and recharging the aquifers,” Simpson said.
Rainwater harvesting is a technique that has been used since antiquity. It is often used for drinking and cooking, and so it is vital that the highest possible standards are met.
Rainwater, however, often does not meet the World Health Organisation water-quality guidelines, but it has been used as water for livestock, irrigation, as well as other typical uses such as supplementing the subsoil water level and increase urban greenery.
Simpson has coined the term ‘rainwater harnessing’, in which he is advocating for larger storage systems and, particularly with imminent climate change on the horizon, he is concerned that water sources are going to be less, and governments across the region need to step up the management of this area.
[Photo: Georgia Popplewell]