Water Pollution Case Study In Trinidad

 

Drainage Area & WaterResources

The North Caroni Plains form part of the Caroni River Basin.

[Fig

ure

2] 

The Basin is situated in the northwest

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ern section of Trinidad between theNorthern Range and Central Rangeand comprises an area of 883.4 km

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equivalent to 22% of the Trinidad’sland surface.

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The Caroni River is themajor river system within the CaroniBasin and has a catchment area of about 600km

2

.

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The river drains theNorthern and Central ranges to thewest through the Caroni Swamp andinto the Gulf of Paria. Nathai-Gyan andJuman (2005) suggests that the majorpart of the Caroni River water supplycomes from perennial tributaries of theNorthern and Central Ranges, with themajor contribution from the 12 riversthat drain from the Northern Range;the lesser contribution coming from thesix rivers that drain from the CentralRange.All these rivers are grosslypolluted by sewage and industrialwastes in their lower reaches.

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The Mausica River receives treated sewage from theArima Sewage Treatment Plant as well as chemicaland other efuents from the Mausica industrial estate.In a study of organic chemicals derived from industryin local watercourses, the water quality of the Mau

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sica River has been described as being more similar toindustrial waste water than to potable water suppliesyet it is upstream of a major source of drinking water -Caroni-Arena Water Treatment Plant.

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The Mausica, Arima, Guanapo and Aripo rivers owsouth into the Caroni River upstream of the intakeof the Caroni-Arena Water Treatment Plant which islocated opposite the old Piarco Airport.The plant is part of the Caroni-Arena Water Projectestablished in the early 1980s with the primary intentof supplying the Point Lisas Industrial DevelopmentProject. The capacity of the plant is 60 to 75 milliongallons per day (273,000 m

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d

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) and it suppliesapproximately 40% of the population of Trinidadwest to Port of Spain and south to San Fernando.The northern tributaries - on their journey to theCaroni River– ow through valleys within which anumber of activities occur. For example, the ArimaRiver ows through the Arima Valley which is usedfor quarrying, agriculture and settlement. Therefore,the various land uses that affect the water quality inthese northern tributaries have downstream effects onthe Caroni River.The quality of raw water abstracted from the Caroni

Figure 2: River Basins in Trinidad. Source: EMA (1998)

1

Nadra Nathia-Gyan and Rahanna A. Juman, “Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands (RIS)”, WetlandsIntenational,http://www.wetlands.org/reports/ris/6TT003_RIS2005en.pdf , Accessed January 13, 2009.

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 Ibid 

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EMA, “State of the Environment Report”, 1998.

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R. A. Moore and F.W. Karasek, “GC/MS identication of organic pollutants in the Caroni River, Trinidad”,

 Journal of Environmental and Analytical Chemistry

, 17 (1984), 203-221.

Chaguanas mayor Gopaul Boodhan and councillor Lisa Holder (Enterprise North/Esmeralda) both say they are disgusted to see the level of contamination and the unsavoury stench emanating from the Ghandia River at Ragoonanan Road, Longdenville, Chaguanas. And farmers are using the polluted river water to irrigate their crops which can lead to tainted vegetables, said environmental biologist Dr Sharda Mahabir. She warned people to wash all vegetables “very clean” before consuming them.

Dr Mahabir was speaking with the media yesterday morning at a clean-up of part of the river. The Chaguanas Borough Corporation joined forces with members of the Collector Car Owners Association, the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) and Scotiabank to do the clean-up.

Mahabir and the clean-up team discovered that farmers in the area were using stagnant, polluted river water to irrigate plants with a system of overhead sprinklers. Mahabir said this practice was not uncommon in the farming community, and said many rivers are polluted. Mahabir advised consumers to wash vegetables thoroughly using warm, mildly soapy water: this would prevent people accidentally eating dangerous bacteria such as E. coli and fecal coliform, she said.

Mahabir, who works with the water resources division of WASA, said contaminated water was low in oxygen content, making it difficult for fish to live; such water may also contain dangerous bacteria that can introduce diseases into vegetable fields and reduce agricultural production. According to Mahabir, WASA’s adopt-a-river programme was designed to change the culture and mindset of people who see watercourses as large garbage dumps that simply take away rubbish. She said such concepts are far from the truth.

She said T&T has 59 watersheds that need protection to ensure an abundant, future fresh water supply. Mayor Boodhan appealed to people to stop using watercourses as dumping grounds, stating the corporation would soon be launching an environmental awareness programme in schools to start changing attitudes at a younger age.

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