International World Water Day is observed on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of fresh water and advocating for the sustainable management of fresh-water resources.
The date was designated by the United Nations in 1993 as a result of recommendations made at the UN Conference on Environment and Development.
The Cayman Islands is unusual in how we obtain fresh water. In fact, the desalination technology used to provide many parts of the world with fresh water by converting seawater was developed on these shores.
Many years ago, Caymanians collected rain water in cisterns or wells, referred to as fresh-water lenses, which were under the ground.
After Hurricane Ivan, many of the fresh-water lenses – still in existence today – were used as a means of sourcing water. The Government now protects fresh-water lenses, not only as a tribute to our past, but also as a precautionary measure.
With the establishment of the Cayman Islands Water Authority in May 1983, Cayman was able to provide piped water to all areas of the Island.
In the early years, the great demand for fresh, piped water outside the West Bay-Seven Mile Beach area in Cayman was underestimated.
By the time the first small section of George Town was supplied, the demand was such that the Water Authority, along with successive governments, had to continue to expand the system.
The Water Authority now provides water to George Town, Bodden Town, and East End, while Consolidated Water provides water for the West Bay Road area and the District of West Bay.
The Water Authority also operates in Cayman Brac but not in Little Cayman.
Among the issues under review during this year’s World Water Day are urbanisation and how it affects water supply and quality, as well as how the world’s water supply will be affected by climate change.
Water conservation tips
According to the Water Authority’s website, some of the best ways of conserving water are:
Fix leaks – ensure that faucets are closed off tightly and that there are no leaks. Toilets in particular, should be checked often to avoid ‘phantom flushing’.
Water your lawn before 10am – this saves water from evaporation. Make sure you don’t over-water.
Learn to read your meter – this will allow you to monitor your usage.
Don’t let water run while you are brushing your teeth.
Wash your hands in a minute or less.
Only run your washing machine or dishwasher when there is a full load.