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ii) A study by the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) and the Institute of which include sugar and oil refining, rum distillation, petro chemicals,

    TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO:

STATE OF THE

    ENVIRONMENT 1998 REPORT

    CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE

    The 1998 State of the Environment Report is the second of our annual reports that focuses on a selected area or aspect of the environment, which the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) has prioritised for attention. The 1997 Report dealt with Biodiversity while the focus this year is on freshwater because of the importance of this resource to our quality of life and indeed our very survival. Freshwater management is also critical to the sustenance of our wildlife and ecosystems. We should be careful to note though, that in one of the marvels of nature, our forested watersheds provide us with free water management services by purifying water and impeding flooding in low lying areas. We ignore these facts at our peril. Continuing deforestation is the major cause of the annual flooding which has now become common place in Trinidad during the wet season. This phenomenon is coupled with the paradox of inadequate supplies of potable water for some members of the populace.

    Freshwater is also a critical resource for industry. Industrial applications range from the use of water for equipment cooling to its use as a receptacle for liquid wastes. It is this latter use that frequently conflicts with its other use in sustaining life. The pervasive nature of freshwater pollution from domestic sewage, agricultural and industrial effluent, is a significant threat to the environment in Trinidad and Tobago.

    This report on freshwater represents part of the process of educating the public about the state of our freshwater sources and the imperatives for management. The EMA’s Water Pollution Management Programme will be implemented via the Water Pollution Rules, which the EMA have recommended to Government. These Rules will among other things:

    1. Prohibit the discharge of water pollutants from industrial, commercial,

    agricultural premises, or sewage works, without a Permit from the EMA.

    2. Allow the EMA to impose the water pollution standards and reporting

    requirements, which each applicant for a Permit will be required to meet.

    3. Allow the EMA to enter premises with a warrant to verify compliance with

    the conditions of a Permit.

    4. Establish a National Register of Permits that will be open to the public for

    inspection.

Dr. John Agard

    CHAIRMAN

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    TABLE OF CONTENTS

CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE ..................................................................................................................... I

    TABLE OF CONTENTS ....................................................................................................................... II

    LIST OF ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS ............................................................................... IV GLOSSARY OF TERMS...................................................................................................................... V

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ................................................................................................................. VIII

    1.0 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................... 1

    1.1 THE REPORT ............................................................................................................................. 1

    1.3 WATER IS OUR MIRROR............................................................................................................. 1

    2.0 FRESH WATER .......................................................................................................................... 3

    2.1 THE RESOURCE......................................................................................................................... 3

    2.2 WHAT INFLUENCES IT ................................................................................................................ 3

    2.3 HOW MUCH RAINFALL AND WHERE ........................................................................................... 3

    2.4 WHERE DOES THIS WATER GO? ................................................................................................. 5

3.0 FRESHWATER QUALITY........................................................................................................ 11

    3.1 A NATIONAL WATER QUALITY ASSESSMENT .......................................................................... 11 3.2 QUALITY OF DISTRIBUTED WATER .......................................................................................... 12

    3.3 THE QUALITY OF WATERS IN THE CARONI RIVER BASIN. ......................................................... 12

    3.4 THE QUALITY OF OUR GROUNDWATERS .................................................................................. 13 3.5 OTHER AQUATIC ENVIRONMENTS SUCH AS WETLANDS .......................................................... 14

    3.6 CONSTRAINTS OF LIMITED DATA AND INFORMATION ................................................................ 14 4.0 THREATS TO WATER QUALITY ........................................................................................... 16

    4.1 THEY ARE MANY AND VARIED; NATURAL AND MAN-MADE ........................................................ 16

    4.2 SURFACE WATERS .................................................................................................................. 17

    4.3 OUR MOST CRITICAL FRESH WATER SOURCE THE CARONI RIVER BASIN. ............................. 20

    4.4 GROUNDWATER ...................................................................................................................... 21

    4.5 WETLANDS .............................................................................................................................. 22

    5.0. WATER AVAILABILITY, PRODUCTION AND DEMAND ..................................................... 23 5.1 HOW MUCH WATER IS AVAILABLE........................................................................................... 23

    5.2 WHO/WHAT NEED WATER ....................................................................................................... 24

    5.3 AND HOW MUCH? .................................................................................................................... 25

    5.4 HOW MUCH IS REALLY CONSUMED? ........................................................................................ 26

    5.5 WHAT IS PRODUCED ............................................................................................................... 26

    5.6 HOW MUCH IS SUPPLIED.......................................................................................................... 28

    5.7 A WATER BALANCE ................................................................................................................ 29

    6.0 LEGISLATION............................................................................................................................ 31

    6.1 THE SCOPE ............................................................................................................................. 31

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    6.2 THE EFFECT ............................................................................................................................ 31 7.0 CHALLENGES AND IMPERATIVES FOR ACTION .............................................................. 33

    7.1 THE CHALLENGE ..................................................................................................................... 33

    7.2 THE STRATEGY ....................................................................................................................... 33

    7.3 IMPERATIVES ........................................................................................................................... 34

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LIST OF ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONS

    ACRONYMS/ MEANING

    ABBREVIATIONS

NH Ammonia 3

    BOD 5-day Biochemical Oxygen Demand 5

    BTEX Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and

    xylene

    CAWTP Caroni Arena Water Treatment Plant

    Cu Copper

    3m/d Cubic metres per day 3m/yr Cubic metres per year 0C Degrees Celsius

    DO Dissolved oxygen

    EMA Environmental Management Authority

    EIA Environmental Impact Assessment ha Hectares

    IMA Institute of Marine Affairs pH Hydrogen ion concentration km Kilometres

    km/hr Kilometres per hour

    # Number

    mm Millimetres

    MCM Million cubic metres

    P Phosphorous

    km2 Square kilometres

    UST Underground Storage Tank WASA Water and Sewerage Authority Zn Zinc

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    GLOSSARY OF TERMS

Hydrologic Cycle Biogeochemical cycle that collects, purifies and

    distributes the earth’s fixed supply of water, from the

    environment to living organisms and then back to the

    environment.

Ecosystem A unit to denote a region of the environment inclusive of

    the habitats contained therein, the biota (living entities)

    and their relationships with each other and the abiotic

    environment.

Aquifer An underground rock body (or underground geological

    formation) that has a high-to-moderate permeability and

    can yield an economically significant amount of water.

    Wetland Land that is inundated on a frequent or permanent

    basis with salt or freshwater, excluding streams, lakes

    and the open ocean.

Catchment The area drained by a river or body of water. Also

    called catchment basin.

Watershed The entire drainage area that contributes water to a

    river, wetland, aquifer or other body of water.

Point source Any discernible, confined and discrete conveyance

    source from which pollutants are or may be discharged.

Non-point Source Pollution that is diffuse entering a waterway from a wide

    geographic area rather than a single point.

Contamination The introduction of a foreign chemical or element to an

    area in trace or significant quantities which results in

    adverse effects.

    Deforestation The process of large-scale denudation of an area’s

    forests without adequate revegetation.

Effluent The liquid drainage output that is discharged to an

    inland, nearshore or offshore receiving water body.

Environmental Impact A process of systematic study used to predict the

    Assessment environmental consequence of a proposed

    development activity.

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    Biochemical Oxygen Demand The quantity of dissolved oxygen consumed by micro-(BOD) organisms in decomposing organic material in a given

    volume of polluted water, at a certain temperature over

    a specified time period.

Feedlot Confined outdoor or indoor space used to raise large

    numbers of domestic livestock.

    Landfill 1. Sanitary landfill is a land disposal site for non-

    hazardous solid wastes at which the waste is

    spread in layers, compacted to the smallest

    practical volume, and cover material applied at the

    end of each operating day.

    2. Secure chemical landfill is a disposal site for

    hazardous waste. They are selected and designed

    to minimise the chance of releases of hazardous

    substances into the environment.

Leachate The chemical(s) or element(s) that are transported from

    upper soil layers (or the soil surface) to lower soil layers

    through the processes of percolation or dissolution.

    A liquid that results from water collecting contaminants

    as it trickles through wastes, agricultural pesticides, or

    fertilisers. Leaching may occur in farming areas,

    feedlots, and landfills, and may result in hazardous

    substances entering surface water, ground water, or

    soil.

Monitoring Periodic or continuous surveillance or testing to

    determine the level of compliance with statutory

    requirements and/or pollutant levels in various media or

    in humans, animals, and other living things.

    Organic Derived from living organisms; or containing carbon.

    Pollutant Substance causing deviation from natural conditions in

    the environment which may cause harm to human

    health or the environment

Pollution The creation or existence of any deviation from natural

    conditions within the environment, which may cause

    harm to human health, or the environment.

Pollution Prevention The establishment and maintenance of measures to

    eliminate the root causes of pollution.

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Receiving Water A standing or dynamic, inshore or coastal body of water

    that is the destination of effluents.

    Release Includes any disposing, spilling, leaking, emitting or

    other incidence of discharge into the environment of

    any hazardous substance/pollutant.

Run-off That part of precipitation or irrigation water that runs off

    the land into streams or other surface-water. It can

    carry pollutants from the air and land into the receiving

    waters.

Sewage The waste and wastewater produced by residential and

    commercial establishments and discharged into sewers.

Silt Fine particles of sand or rock that can be picked up by

    the air or water and deposited and discharged into

    sewers.

Total Suspended Solids The portion of total solids retained by a 0.45 micron

    filter under defined conditions.

Underground Storage Tank Any one or combination of tanks (including underground

    pipes connected thereto) that is used to contain an

    accumulation of substances, and the volume of which is

    10% or more beneath the surface of the ground.

Waste 1. Unwanted materials left over from an agricultural,

    commercial, industrial manufacturing, mining or

    other extraction process.

    2. Refuse from places of human or animal habitation.

Wastewater Water that may contain dissolved or suspended matter,

    discharged after being used in, or produced by, a

    process, and which is of no further immediate use or

    value to that process.

    Water Pollution The man-made or man-induced alteration of the

    physical, chemical, biological, and radiological integrity

    of water.

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    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    This fourth assessment of the state of the environment of Trinidad and Tobago focuses on WATER but does not treat with the resource in its totality. It deals only with the freshwater component of the resource and the environments that are supported by it or those that are responsible for its production - essentially the inland aspects. While it is recognised that marine waters are part of the hydrologic (water) cycle, and that whatever is done on land affects the marine area, sea water and associated environments are not addressed in this report.

    Because of its use and attributes, fresh water provides an eminent example for demonstrating how human activity impacts on the environment at the local level as well as nationally, and, consequently, on the health and livelihood of people. There is no doubt that everyone understands the importance of water in their daily lives: it is needed for drinking, washing, cooking, agriculture and animal rearing. The resource is also a revenue generator at community and national levels through the varied tourism and recreation activities it supports. For most of us, too, it is an integral part of our religious practices. What is not fully appreciated however, is that water is a continuum linking air, land and sea through the hydrologic cycle; a valuable resource and a true mirror of the decisions and actions we take. Whatever we do therefore, has its fallout in water directly or indirectly, to our pleasure or peril.

    The data accessed and analysed and the information available for this report have revealed that Trinidad is not a freshwater-scarce country although there are large variances of raw water availability caused by physiography. With a population of 1.3 million persons and annual maximum rainfall of 3800mm in some parts of the country, the water scarcity experienced by some sections of the population is due in part to the cost and efficiency of tapping water from a number of small sources, to increased run-off and to leakages from the distribution system.

    Increasing run-off is a direct consequence of the types of human activity taking place in the watershed e.g. loss of vegetation particularly on hillslopes. These activities are both authorised and unauthorised and include quarrying, timber harvesting, residential and infrastructure development, slash and burn agriculture, squatting and annual uncontrolled fires.

    While the water demand for human consumption and development has first-call on the water supply, the intrinsic water demand of the freshwater environments such as wetlands cannot be overlooked. Essential life-supporting functions are carried out in these areas and their water demand is not catered for at present. Whatever is left after other demands are met has to suffice for these areas. Future calculations of water demand will set aside a percentage to meet these needs.

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    The quality of water to be sourced and distributed is also of great concern. The various assessments, partial and comprehensive, all demonstrate worrying signs of substandard water quality. Comprehensive data sets that would have derived from consistent monitoring and recording of the status of water is non-existent. The one area that has attracted most attention for repeated study and research over the years, is the Caroni River Basin, which supplies potable water to over 40% of the population. Notwithstanding the intermittent studies, the conclusions on the same watercourses by different studies all demonstrate deteriorating water quality induced by human activity. The effects of natural factors on water quality, such as iron in groundwater, are very limited and do not usually pose high risks to the water supply.

    The major threats and potential threats to water quality are sewage, high strength organic wastes from agricultural farms and agro-processing plants, grey water containing phosphates and nitrates from homes and toxic wastes from landfills and industrial effluents. Groundwater, which is linked to surface water in the water continuum is exposed to the same threats by these pollutants. In addition, on account of their location, aquifers in the vicinity of underground fuel storage tanks may become contaminated by carcinogenic hydrocarbons such as benzene, toluene and xylene. Those aquifers, which are located close to the sea and are overpumped, are subjected to saltwater intrusion as already experienced in the El Socorro gravels.

    Freshwater wetlands are affected primarily by suspended soil particles, drying out and salinisation. Species diversity and abundance are reduced.

    Persistent water quality problems are the result of a combination of factors ranging from: inadequate research and monitoring, ineffective legislation and regulations, failure to accept the true value of fresh water and to continue to devalue it; lack of enforcement brought about by inadequate regulations and fines for violations; and, dissipation of responsibility for water management among agencies.

    The assessment concludes by providing four major recommendations:

    1. Management of the quantity and quality of fresh water must be through an

    integrated approach involving all stakeholders.

    2. A system for grey water management must be introduced urgently and

    implemented.

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