St. Vincent and the Grenadines is an island state in the Lesser Antilles chain, in the southern portion of the Windward Islands, which lie at the southern end of the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea where the latter meets the Atlantic Ocean. The country’s 389 km2 territory consists of the main island of Saint Vincent and the northern two-thirds of the Grenadines, which are a chain of smaller islands stretching south from Saint Vincent Island to Grenada. The island of Saint Vincent is 18 km long, 11 km wide and 344 km2 in area. It is very mountainous in nature with one of the world’s largest active volcanoes, its highest point, rising to over 4000 ft. St. Vincent is entirely volcanic.
The most important sector of its economy is agriculture.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a densely populated country (over 300 inhabitants / km2) with approximately 120,000 inhabitants. Its capital is Kingstown, also its main port. Its total population is 120,000.
For more information see: http://www.gov.vc/
Current Issues and Challenges in Wastewater Management
(Source: “Regional Sectoral Overview of Wastewater Management in the Wider Caribbean Region. Situational Analysis” prepared by UNEP-CEP/RCU in 2010.)
- Predominantly throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines, sewage treatment consists of septic tanks for collection and treatment and soak-away systems for disposal of effluent. This applies to both domestic households and commercial premises such as hotels, etc. As such, sewered areas are basically areas of central Kingstown and a small area in Arnos Vale, not too far from the capital.
- The two major areas of focus in St. Vincent and the Grenadines as related to sewage treatment are the area of central Kingstown and its surrounding environs, and the South Coast area of the island which is an extremely densely populated area with several hotels and beaches all in the same locality. The latter is of great concern due to the political and economic thrust towards development of more tourism. The Kingstown area has quantities of waste generated from the several restaurants and other food establishments as would be expected with any other capital city, however, the majority is domestic sewage. Hence, industrial waste is not a concern eliminating the threat of heavy metals.
- The South Coast is separated from the capital, Kingstown, by the highlands of Cane Garden, having an elevation of approximately 330 ft. Along this coastline, there are a number of beaches bounded by hotels, and the area is also densely populated. Many of these hotels make an attempt to have some form of septic tank and soakaway system but this is problematic due to the proximity to the coastline and resultant high water table level. Instances arise whereby sewage from seepage discharges straight to sea and, in all cases, sullage (grey water) from kitchens and bathrooms is discharged straight to sea through stormwater drains. The result is an extremely heavily stressed environment in this area. Practically all corals have died and bathing water standards are of critical concern. It should also be remembered that the absence of corals negates from nature the ability to regenerate its beaches with sand, which is a concern when one considers tourism.
- Villages, which are located close to streams, often cause pollution to these water courses. Pollution occurs as a result of human activities as many persons use the streams for several domestic purposes: washing, cooking, backyard gardening, bathing, the dumping of garbage and the discharge of sewage. Thus, villagers upstream can pollute the water for downstream users. Where these activities take place close to the source of streams and/or water catchment areas the problem assumes quite serious proportions. The real impact of these activities will not only have a negative effect on other villages that use the streams for the same purposes, but may even affect the domestic water supply to the island.
- Collected sewage is disposed via marine disposal, with sewage being pumped out to sea through a 400 mm PVC outfall. This outfall is approximately 1500m long and is supposed to discharge sewage outside of the Kingstown bay locality and into the sea currents where it does not pose a threat to marine coastal life and man. However, the outfall is in very poor condition and has several cracks and breaks along its length. Hence, sewage is pumped into the sea much closer to the coastline than originally intended, only 300m off the nearest bay.
- Collection and disposal aside, collected sewage is not treated in any manner. The comminutor which was at the inlet of the collection tank has not functioned for a long time and the by-pass arrangement has had to be utilized permanently. This consists of a large grill that is difficult to clean and regularly blocks.
- Currently, septage from septic tanks throughout the country is disposed of and treated at a facultative lagoon which is owned and operated by the Central Water and Sewage Authority (CWSA).This facility is located adjacent to the Diamond landfill.
- Recent studies have shown that due to the depth of the outfall at the location of the break and the quantity and duration of the sewage pumping regime, environmental impacts to date have been minimal. This is due mainly to the high dilution factor which is achieved on discharge of the sewage, and the distance of the break from the shoreline is adequate. Usual signs of negative environmental impacts are minimal, e.g. there are very few signs of non-biodegradable deposits on Edinboro beach (nearest coastline) and bathing water standards are marginally acceptable as compared to European and EPA standards. Marine life also still appears to be thriving in this area.
- The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) acknowledges that the preservation of the environment is necessary for sustainable development, through the effective management and utilisation of scarce resources. During the 1998-2000 period, the draft National Physical Development Plan was completed. This, along with the National Environmental Action Plan is expected to provide the foundation for environmental planning and management. Among the main environmental issues facing St. Vincent and the Grenadines are drainage and lack of adequate toilet facilities especially in the poorer communities, land use planning, reforestation, watershed management and squatter settlement control.
- Vincent and the Grenadines does not possess comprehensive wastewater legislation.
- The Environmental Services Act which was enacted in 1991 makes provision for the conservation and maintenance of the environment in the general interest of public health and safety.
- The Central Water and Sewerage Authority was given broad powers to provide for the conservation, control, apportionment, and use of water resources. The NBSAP (2000) proposed legislation that would expand the powers of the CWSA and mandated that the Authority prepare a national water resources development plan; construct and operate sewerage works; regulate private sewers, septic tanks and latrines; regulate commercial and industrial treatment of effluents; establish “protected zones” around water supplies; and impose substantial penalties for violations of anti-pollution laws.”
- There is a draft national effluent standard.