The Caribbean Green Technology Center and the VI Department of Agriculture team of experts ask the USVI community to begin to use water conservation methods as the Virgin Islands are experiencing yet another drought. As this negative impact of climate change affects our ability to harvest water, the UVI Caribbean Green Technology Center (CGTC) and the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture (VIDA) are asking residents and farmers to begin reducing water use and conserving water as drought conditions are expected to last for at least another month.
Drought conditions limit our ability to refill cisterns and ponds and although convenient, buying water is often an expensive proposition for families and farmers. Dr. Greg Guannel, director of the UVI CGTC indicated that the goal of the voluntary water conservation strategies is a way to provide useful information to the community at large so they can make better-informed decisions about the water they drink.
“Especially now, as we prepare for hurricane season, it's important to remember, conserving, reusing or limiting water use is a good mitigation strategy. It reduces chances of running out of water during critical times, and by saving water you’re also helping yourself to save money,” Guannel stated. “Water is important. We can’t live without it and one way to mitigate costs related to water is to be informed and to conserve.”
Commissioner Positive Nelson of the VIDA said that farmers are facing a long, hot summer, and is asking everyone to do their part when it comes to water conservation methods and farming. He stated that checking and maintaining irrigation lines for leaks is a good way to conserve water.
Nelson also added that “the best time to water your plants and limit the chances that they show signs of distress is to water them early in the morning, and late in the day. This limits the amount of evaporation that would have occurred if you water during the middle of the day, when it’s much hotter”. He also stated that farmers in St Croix purchased more than 952,353 gallons of water in the month of April.
“Now that the USVI is on the U.S. Drought Monitor Map, which details the level of drought, we can work ahead to better serve our farmers, and when necessary direct them to the Farm Service Agency when livestock forge support is needed,” Commissioner Nelson said, and he added that he hopes everyone will consider conservation methods including home gardeners and micro producers as the USVI heads into the Hurricane Season.
The US Drought Monitor (USDM) map details severe and extreme drought levels nationally and in the USVI as well as the Pacific Islands. Currently, the U.S. Drought Monitor has indicated that the drought level for St. Thomas and St. John is at D2, which means it’s a severe drought. USDM members are working to closely monitor conditions in St Croix to see if they will qualify in the coming weeks.
“During this time of drought across the USVI, farmers and residents should implement best practices for water conservation as a precaution,” Commissioner Nelson said. “We don’t know the length of the drought, but what we do know is it is hotter, and the drought is starting earlier and lasting longer. Employing conservation methods sooner will help farmers and residents alike better manage their water resources and help to save money.”
“We buy approximately 8,000 gallons of water per week,” said Dale Brown of Sejah Farms on St Croix who added that he is monitoring conditions and employing methods to help him keep costs down. “We’re even looking into catchment containers to collect water from farm rooftops so we can reuse that water as well, along with using wells, irrigation and working to develop both long- and short-term plans to address drought on our farm.”
To aid farmers, local, federal and community partners, CGTC staff has recently launched a new Drought newsletter for the community at large focused on agriculture in the community. CGTC staff will also be creating a Water Resource Guide “Go with Flow,” which will focus on strategies from CGTC that are Caribbean focused. For more information, and to stay informed of all the events being hosted by CGTC, visit their website at Caribbean Green Technology Center (cgtc-usvi.com).
Conservation Tips for Residents:
- Repair leaky faucets.
- Check cistern levels.
- Check for cracks in your cistern and seal them.
- Take shorter showers.
- Invest in dual flush toilets
- Turn off water when brushing teeth and washing dishes.
- Do full loads of laundry.
- Invest in a dishwasher and do full loads.
Conservation tips for farmers:
- Water earlier and later in the day
- Avoid watering when it is windy.
- Add organic matter to your crops.
- Plant ground cover plants or place hay or dry grass on soil to reduce evaporation and retain moisture.
- Use soil moisture sensors.
- Check irrigation lines for leaks.
- Use recycling methods for water run-off.
For more information, and to stay informed of all the events being hosted by CGTC, visit their website at Caribbean Green Technology Center https://gtcusvi.com or contact Gregory Guannel at email@example.com and Christina Chanes at firstname.lastname@example.org.