The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is an archipelagic state in the southern Caribbean, lying northeast of the South American nation of Venezuela and south of Grenada in the Lesser Antilles roughly between 10 and 11.5 degrees North latitude and between 60 and 62 degrees West longitude. The country covers an area of 5,128 sq. km and consists of two main islands, Trinidad and Tobago. Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two main islands; Tobago is much smaller, comprising about 6% of the total area and 4% of the population.
Trinidad possesses vast tracts of rich rain forests in the Northern Range, with the highest peak, El Cerro del Aripo, ascending to a height of 940 metres above sea level. In contrast, you will find flatlands, mostly agricultural, in the Central Plains, while Southern Trinidad is full of gently undulating hillsides.
Tobago, located at latitude 11°N, longitude 60°W, is fish-shaped and measures 42 km by 10 km. Its Eastern interior rises steeply into tall peaks with lower lying lands that include a protected reserve area. Its topography consists mainly of volcanic rock.
Trinidad and Tobago's economy is primarily industrial, with an emphasis on petroleum, natural gas and petrochemicals. Its economy is heavily dependent upon these resources and it also supplies manufactured goods, notably food products and beverages, as well as cement to the Caribbean region.
The capital is Port of Spain and the total population is 2.34 million (2014, World Bank).
For more information see: http://www.ttconnect.gov.tt/gortt/portal/ttconnect
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.)
- Pollution of Trinidad and Tobago’s rivers comes from inadequately treated effluent from sewage treatment plants and the widespread utilization of on-lot septic tanks, soakaways, and pit latrines as well as from a wide range of agricultural, animal husbandry, and urban land use activities. Use of chemical pesticides in agricultural lands has increased, resulting in an increased pollution load. Also there has been an increase in thermal pollution in addition to nutrient pollution. This reveals the need for the development of regulatory and monitoring mechanisms to control the discharge of trade effluents in to the public sewers.
- In 1999 only approximately 28 percent of domestic sewage generated in the country was processed in treatment plants (WASA, 1999), the waste of the remaining households being directly or indirectly discharged to surface waters. The Population and Housing Census 2000 indicates that 50 percent of households utilized septic tanks and soak-away systems to dispose of their domestic sewage, while 27 percent utilized pit latrines, and only 22 percent enjoyed disposal to a sewer system.
- Sewage is handled by aging wastewater infrastructure that is below required capacity and upgrading infrastructure and introduction of new technology is slow. Proper operation and maintenance of treatment plants is often lacking. There has been an increase in the number of private wastewater treatments plants that are not supervised by a state agency, many of which are dysfunctional (UNEP-CEP, 2009b). It is important for legal issues involved in taking control of private sewage treatment plants to be addressed.
- Industrial estates have been created as new industries begin operation, resulting in an increase in industrial wastewater production. This is compounded by little regard by private sector industries for proper management of wastewater and unwillingness by the private sector to pay for appropriate treatment
- Increased hillside development has led to increased storm water run-off and flash flooding in the capital city.
- The wastewater sector is constrained by inadequate funding and financial resources. There is the need for implementation of appropriate wastewater/sewerage tariff for public (WASA) and private wastewater systems. Recognizing this, the Government has undertaken a review of wastewater/sewerage tariffs to appropriate levels with respect to domestic wastewater discharges and trade effluent discharges.
- Sewage is routinely found in river water samples taken in any of the developed areas. The CRB Research Project 2004-2005 revealed the presence, in all of the rivers monitored, of bacteria at levels exceeding environmental limits for domestic, agricultural, and recreational purposes. Several stations sampled showed total and faecal coliform levels in excess of the WHO (drinking water criteria), Canadian (agricultural, irrigation), Canadian (recreational, contact), and USEPA – 500 (total).
- Other studies indicate the presence of sewage-associated bacteria in several areas of the coast in both Trinidad and Tobago, in some instances at levels sufficiently high to indicate a hazard to human health through the transmission of gastro-intestinal illnesses and dermatological infections. Sources of contamination include run-off from improperly constructed pit latrines and septic tanks, effluent discharged from hotels, campers and villagers releasing untreated body wastes into rivers, effluent from poorly- or non-functioning treatment plants; untreated waste from yachts, run-off from pig farms (EMA/CARIRI, 1997; Akili and James, undated; IMA, 1992 (b); IMA, 2005; TIDCO, 2003).
- A 2001 study of water quality and benthic biota at fringing coral reefs in Tobago found that recent increases in local nutrient pollution, particularly from sewage, had served to push Tobago’s coral reefs over the threshold indicative of eutrophication on Caribbean coral reefs (La Pointe, 2007).
- One of the contributing factors to the contamination of water sources is that there is a general lack of awareness of the link between environmental degradation and health issues.
- From 1965 to the present, the focus of the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) was mainly on expanding the potable water supply to meet the increasing demands of both domestic and industrial consumers, as attested to by the fact that approximately 95% of the country has access to a potable water supply, but less than 25% of the country has access to centralized sewerage systems. Only 6% of the annual budget for wastewater and water production is allocated specifically for wastewater treatment.
- A number of initiatives are currently being pursued by the government in an attempt to improve system performance. These include:
- Water Supply and Sewerage Rehabilitation Projects (WSSRP) - Programme for the complete refurbishment of 9 treatment plants and 21 pumping stations operated by WASA. Funding provided by the World Bank and the European Investment Bank
- Greater Port of Spain Sewerage System Study (GPOSSSS) - A study to evaluate the Greater Port of Spain Sewerage System. Funded by the Caribbean Development Bank
- A study funded by the Tobago House of Assembly and valued at $0.5m, aimed at developing proposals for the integration of the Signal Hill sewerage system into the existing Scarborough sewerage system
- Proposals to improve the existing wastewater systems within the South-West region of Tobago have been submitted by the Trinidad and Tobago Water Services (TTWS) on behalf of WASA.
- The $1.2 billion Water Sector Modernisation Programme includes the refurbishment, upgrade and integration of 43 wastewater treatment plants.
- It has been recognized that the provision of water generates the production of sewage. With this in mind, the Government has also been actively preparing for the next stage in the development of the Water and Sewerage Sector to deal with issues relating to the maintenance and expansion of the existing sewerage system, constructing and developing new sewage works, adopting and rationalizing private sewage systems, and establishing the legal framework for control and monitoring of all wastewater systems in the future. The Environmental Management Authority has been appointed by Government to establish and implement a Pollution Control and Monitoring Programme to ensure compliance by all owners and operators of wastewater treatment facilities.
- The Vision 2020 National Strategic Plan, 2005 presented the national strategy to guide the country to ‘developed nation’ status by the year 2020, and was prepared by the Vision 2020 Multi-sectoral Core Group through a process that involved extensive consultation with stakeholders in the national community. The Plan identifies among environmental issues to be addressed, pollution from non-functioning sewerage treatment plants, industrial effluents, and oil spills; indifferent attitudes and values toward the environment; and failure to implement or enforce important environmental and natural resource management legislation.
- As part of the implementation of Vision 2020, Trinidad & Tobago developed the Water and Wastewater Master Plan for Trinidad and Tobago to 2035 that will provide a framework for the comprehensive rehabilitation, reconstruction and extension of the country’s water and wastewater infrastructure. The master plan aimed to transform the water and wastewater sector so that by the year 2014, 98 percent of the population would have a 24-hour continuous supply of water and at least 75 percent of households and other such entities would be connected to the central sewerage system by the year 2020.
- Sewerage tariffs in Trinidad and Tobago are low both in absolute terms and relative to water supply charges. In Trinidad and Tobago, the sewerage tariff is only 50 percent or half of the water supply tariff. The rates charged for sewerage services are a poor reflection of the cost of providing those services. A revised tariff structure, which is directly related to the true costs of sewerage and sewage disposal services, is needed as the cover the initial costs to provide infrastructure for new sewerage systems or expand/up-grade the existing sewerage systems and treatment plants; and to provide a source of continuing funding (revenue) for the operation and maintenance of the various sewerage.