UVI Caribbean Green Technology, VIDA Recommend Voluntary Water Conservation

The UVI Caribbean Green Tech Center uses a pond for some scientific water experiments. (Photo submitted)

The Caribbean Green Technology Center and the VI. Department of Agriculture (VIDA) urge the USVI community to start using water conservation methods as the Virgin Islands experiences another drought.

As these negative effects of climate change affect our ability to harvest water, the UVI Caribbean Green Technology Center (CGTC) and the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture (VIDA) are urging residents and farmers to reduce water use and conserve water as drought conditions are likely to prevail take at least another month.

Drought conditions limit our ability to replenish cisterns and ponds, and while it is convenient, buying water is often an expensive proposition for families and farmers. Greg Guannel, Ph.D., director of the UVI CGTC, says the goal of volunteer water conservation strategies is to provide the community as a whole with useful information so that they can make more informed decisions about the water they drink.

“Right now, as we prepare for hurricane season, it is important to remember that saving, reusing or limiting water use is a good containment strategy. It will make you less likely to run out of water during critical times and by saving water you are also helping yourself save money, ”said Guannel. “Water is important. We cannot live without them, and one way to reduce water-related costs is to be informed and save. “

VIDA Commissioner Positive Nelson said farmers have a long, hot summer ahead of them and he asks everyone to play their part in water conservation and agriculture. He explained that checking and maintaining irrigation lines for leaks is a great way to save water.

Nelson added that “The best time to water your plants and limit the chances of them showing signs of stress is to water them early in the morning and late in the day. This limits the evaporation that would have occurred if you watered in the middle of the day when it’s much hotter. ”He also said farmers on St. Croix bought more than 952,353 gallons of water in April.

“Now that the USVI is on the US Drought Monitor Map, which details the extent of the drought, we can better serve our farmers and refer them to the Farm Service Agency if they need assistance with forage,” Commissioner Nelson said . He added that he hopes everyone, including home gardeners and micro-producers, will consider conservation methods when the USVI goes into hurricane season.

The US Drought Monitor (USDM) map shows severe and extreme drought levels on the national, USVI and Pacific islands. Currently, the US Drought Monitor has indicated that the drought level for St. Thomas and St. John is D2, which means that it is a severe drought. Members of the U.S. Drought Monitor are working to closely monitor conditions on St. Croix to see if they qualify in the coming weeks.

“During this period of drought across the USVI, farmers and local residents should adopt precautionary best practices to conserve water,” said Commissioner Nelson. “We don’t know how long the drought will last, but we do know it’s hotter and the drought starts earlier and lasts longer. Using conservation methods earlier will help farmers and local residents alike to better manage their water resources and save money. “

“We buy about 8,000 gallons of water a week,” said Dale Brown of Sejah Farms on St. Croix, who added that he monitors conditions and uses methods that will help him keep costs down. “We’re even looking for sumps to collect water from the roofs of farms so that we can reuse that water as well, along with wells, irrigation and developing both long-term and short-term plans to combat drought on our farm.”

To help farmers, local, state and community partners, the staff at the Caribbean Green Technology Center recently published a new community drought newsletter that focuses on community farming. The Caribbean Green Technology Center staff will also produce a “Go with Flow” water resources guide that will focus on CGTC strategies targeting the Caribbean. For more information and to stay informed of all Caribbean Green Technology Center events, visit the website at www.cgtc-usvi.com.

Conservation tips for residents:

  • Repair leaking taps.
  • Check cistern levels.
  • Check your cistern for cracks 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 make full loads.

Conservation tips for farmers:

  • Water earlier and later in the day
  • Avoid watering when it is windy.
  • Add organic material to your plants.
  • Plant ground covers or put hay or dry grass on the ground to reduce evaporation and retain moisture.
  • Use soil moisture sensors.
  • Check flushing lines for leaks.
  • Use recycling methods for water drainage.

For more information and to stay informed of all Caribbean Green Technology Center events, visit the website at https://gtcusvi.com, or contact Gregory Guannel at gregory.guannel@uvi.edu or Christina Chanes christina.chanes@uvi.edu.

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