Thursday, November 24, 2016

Water Delivery for the Caribbean

While I have spent the late summer watching a silent drought take over my corner of Virginia, other parts of the world are experiencing much bigger droughts. The islands of the Caribbean have been experiencing drought. Their drought started early last year. The Islands are mostly dry rock formations that collect rainfall in reservoirs across the region. Without the rains, the reservoirs are being drained, forcing utilities from Trinidad & Tobago to Jamaica to ration water.

For some islands, such as Cuba, it is reported to be the worst drought in more than 100 years. And this may just be the start. Now the tiny Republic of Suriname wants to sell some of their abundant water to their neighbors. Suriname is located on the coast of South America and has a reported 151 billion M³ of fresh water flow to the ocean each year from its rivers.

Now, a company, Amazone Resources has received the rights from Suriname’s government to pump water from the mouths of the Coppename and Suriname rivers, both of which meet World Health Organization standards for water quality. The water will be filtered and treated with UV light to meet health standards. This week, a boat will tow a giant bag made from PVC-coated fabric with enough water to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool from Suriname to drought-stricken Barbados and Curacao. The bag will float because fresh water is lighter than salt water.

Amazone Resouces has received permission to export up to 400 flex tanks a year. This is equivalent to 0.0092% of the flow of the rivers. Research has shown that removal of up to 0.129% of a river's flow can be accomplished without permanently disturbing the ecology. This will be a test run for a business to sell some of the excess water that flows to the sea from Suriname without disturbing the ecological balance. The Barbados Water Authority, which signed a memorandum of understanding for the test run but is not buying the initial shipment, said in a statement that the accord it part of its long-term plans to tackle the impact of climate change.

The total volume of water on Earth is about 1,400 million km3 of which only 2.5 %, or about 35 million km3, is freshwater. Most freshwater occurs in the form of permanent ice or snow, locked up in Antarctica and Greenland, or in deep groundwater aquifers. The principal sources of water for human use are lakes, rivers, soil moisture and relatively shallow groundwater basins. The usable portion of these sources is only about 200,000 km3 of water worldwide.

Freshwater resources are unevenly distributed, with much of the water located far from human populations. Many of the world's largest river basins run through thinly populated regions. At the continental level, the Americas has the largest share of the world’s total freshwater resources with 45%, followed by Asia with 28%, Europe with 15.5 % and Africa with 9%.

Fresh water I necessary to sustain life, but it is equally vital for food production. Seventy percent of the worldʼs fresh water resource is currently required for food production alone, yet water is also essential for industry. Every product on the planet has been produced by using water at some stage of the process. Thirty-three countries depend on other countries for over 50% of their renewable water resources: Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Cambodia, Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Gambia, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Latvia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, Niger, Pakistan, Paraguay, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam and Yugoslavia.

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