Integrated Water and Coastal Areas Management

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Integrated Watershed and Coastal Areas Management (IWCAM) is a holistic approach for the management of aquatic resources and ecosystems on a sustainable basis. This approach is necessary in Caribbean islands given small land sizes and the highly integrated and interlinked nature of watersheds and coastal zones. CEHI's work in this programme area addresses diminishing freshwater supplies, degraded freshwater and coastal water quality, inappropriate land use and hygiene and sanitation.

IWRM is a holistic approach to managing the environment. It is a process of sustainable management of land and water resources used to meet social, economic, and environmental demands. CEHI assists Caribbean Member States in developing capacity to effectively plan for, and implement integrated water resources management activities, pursuant to Article 26 of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (out of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002) which calls for all countries to develop Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Efficiency Plans by 2005, with support to developing countries. A key aspect of CEHI's IWRM work in the Caribbean is the alignment of IWRM initiatives with the Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities (or LBS Protocol).The mainstreaming of IWRM planning in wider development considerations is anticipated to redound to positive impacts and benefits to national stakeholders in the context of enhancing equity in access to water, enhanced service delivery, reduction of risk due to water scarcity and improved environmental flows. The IWRM programme is being financially supported in the countries by the GEF-IWCAM Project. Information on IWRM plans, policies and roadmaps developed by CEHI for specific countries can be found in the links below.

The first demonstration project to protect coastal water quality has been carried out along the North West Coast of St. Lucia. This project sought to raise awareness of the issues associated with degraded water quality in the coastal zone and to implement actions that will reduce the discharge of point and non-point sources of pollution into the water ways and coastal environment. The first phase of the project consisted of a water quality and pollution hotspot evaluation within four watershed units and their marine environments.

Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) continues to generate significant interest amongst stakeholders in the water resources sector and in member states particularly in the context of climate change and the potential threats to water security. RWH is a simple and low cost water supply technology that has been practiced for thousands of years. It is not widely used in the SIDS, and many countries have not included rainwater harvesting in integrated water resources management (IWRM) plans and/or water policies as has been done for ground and surface water. CEHI has an ongoing regional programme to promote and facilitate RWH as a water augmentation technique in the Caribbean. Partners in the programme area include UNEP and the Global Water Partnership - Caribbean (GWP-C).

Water Safety Planning (WSP) is an approach to water management promoted by the World Health Organisation. It differs from traditional approaches in that the focus is not merely on the water provider to ensure that potable water leaves the treatment plant and reaches the consumer. Instead, the WSP approach widens the scope of responsibility to persons who engage in activities in the water catchment area that could impact water quality before it enters the water treatment facility. Additionally, responsibility is also assigned to consumers, to ensure that they practice proper management for the storage and use of water in the home. The water safety planning approach also requires the involvement of health, environmental health officials, water utilities companies and environmental agencies.Following the kick-off of WSP development in the Caribbean in Jamaica (Spanish Town water supply system) in 2006, CEHI provided technical support for implementation of a water safety planning initiative for the city of Linden, Guyana, in close technical partnership and guidance from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Since then CEHI has supported the St. Lucia Water and Sewage Company (WASCO) in implementing a Water Safety Plan (WSP) for the water supply systems that service the Mabouya Valley and Dennery communities in St. Lucia.

Under the Caribbean Eco-Health Programme funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), with support from Laval University, CEHI undertook a project geared towards promoting more sanitary RWH in the Caribbean Region. The project investigated microbial contamination of stored household rainwater and the socio-cultural characteristics of rainwater harvesting (RWH) on the islands of Antigua, Barbuda, Carriacou and St. Lucia.

Ecohydrology is “an integrative science on the relationship between hydrology, aquatic eco-systems and flora and fauna at the catchment (watershed) scale.” A key concern amongst ecohydrologists is river environmental flow, which refers to the amount and the timing of river discharge needed to maintain river ecosystem processes and provide water for human needs. CEHI has carried out Ecohydrology training in conjunction with UNESCO. The institute has also carried out ecohydrological assessments to establish environmental flows for rivers used for hydropower generation in Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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