Solid Waste: Basseterre Valley Aquifer is sacred ground, do not dump here

Basseterre, St. Kitts (October 21, 2015) — The Basseterre Valley Aquifer has recently been in the news, courtesy of two concerned individuals.
Water Department’s Acting Manager Mr Denison Paul religiously told the media that the Basseterre Valley Aquifer which feeds water to Basseterre, Bird Rock, Frigate Bay, South East Peninsula and Half Moon Bay was at a critical point as a result of the prevailing drought conditions.
The Aquifer, which also supplies the rest of the island with 40 per cent of its water demands, was getting depleted as the precious commodity continued to be pumped out, but there was little or no rainfall to replenish it.
Solid Waste Management Corporation’s Operations Officer Mr Valentine Heyliger called to the famous ‘Voices’ radio call-in-programme on WINN FM and advised members of the public to desist from dumping household and industrial garbage at Basseterre Valley Aquifer as long term effects would include contamination of the water that is consumed on the island.
In a recent phone interview, Mr Heyliger said: “I am here at the Basseterre Valley Aquifer and to my disgust and to the disgust of the Solid Waste Management there is a number of stuff that has been disposed in this area indiscriminately.
“There are toilet sets, washing machines, engines from vehicles, mattresses, the whole works; garbage, regular garbage. These things are not supposed to be thrown in this area. This is the aquifer; this is where water that is supplied to Basseterre and the surrounding areas is stored. This is like sacred area, we cannot afford for our water to be contaminated.”
The Solid Waste Management Corporation (SWMC) St. Kitts is charged with the responsibility of ensuring that garbage generated on the island of St. Kitts is disposed properly at the Conaree Landfill. The Basseterre Valley Aquifer is not a designated disposal area.
“If you are going to throw out washing machines, derelict vehicles, spare parts and so forth, over time their residues are going to seep into the soil and then into the water,” cautioned Mr Heyliger. “People are going to get sick; our children, or grandchildren, our great grandchildren are going to get sick in the future. We have got to preserve this area.
“We are asking you to desist from throwing stuff in the aquifer. Sooner or later the area will get contaminated with all this garbage and especially when persons are so smart, that when they know that they are consistently throwing stuff inside there, they burn the area to hide the identity of stuff that is in there, which is not good.”
According to the Solid Waste Management Corporation’ Operations Officer the corporation will probably have to find a way to police the area a lot more often, be it in collaboration with the army, the police, Environmental Health, the Ministry of Environment, and any other agency that could get involved.
“We try to catch the perpetrators of these crimes, because these are crimes against your health,” said Mr Heyliger. “These are health issues, because sooner or later it is going to go into something bigger than what is happening right now, if they continue to do it at the current pace it is not good as it is almost looking like a landfill inside there.”
The Solid Waste officer was of the opinion that by now everyone on the island knows that the corporation has a regular weekly pick up of household waste in all areas on the island, and three-weekly pick up schedules for College Street in Basseterre. He did not see the excuse people have to use to dump at the Aquifer.
“If you do not want to wait on the garbage trucks, or if you have missed putting out your garbage when the trucks come in your area, you can carry the stuff directly to the Conaree Landfill,” advised Mr Heyliger. “If we recognise that they are coming from your home, depending on what they are, you won’t be charged.
“If it is household garbage, and you carry it in your vehicle you won’t have to pay any tipping fee at the landfill. However, if we recognise that it is coming from a commercial place, you will have to pay a tipping fee, because we have to keep the kitty going as old people would say.”
There is however a different approach as it concerns ‘white goods’ a term that refers to household items like fridges, stoves, washing machines, TV sets, computer monitors etc., as those are not picked up by garbage trucks and anyone wanting to dispose such goods is advised to take them to the landfill where they are disposed at a small fee per item.
The corporation is also aware that some civic minded persons would hire a hauler to take such goods to the Conaree Landfill, but advised that they must always ensure that the goods ended up at the Landfill by demanding a computer-generated ticket that is issued at the Landfill.
“I am calling on all persons of goodwill to help us to keep the Aquifer and the country in general free of indiscriminate dumping,” ended Mr Heyliger. “If you see someone dumping, you can call Solid Waste at 465 9507, or you can place information on our website, There is a section where one could report anonymously.”

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