As the 5TH Caribbean Water Operators conference commenced at the Fort Young Hotel on Thursday, stakeholders of the Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association Inc, CAWASA, were called on to adopt the positive practices of their sister countries to ensure the positive growth of the utility companies.
CAWASA is a regional association of thirteen water and sewerage utilities in the Caribbean.
The CAWASA Water Operators’ conference is designed as a platform for water operators to discuss real issues and practical solutions, as well as cultivate innovations, and inspire synergies to address and present future challenges in the Caribbean’s Water and Sewerage sector.
The theme for this year’s conference is, ‘Connecting Water Operators: Strengthening Utilities.’
Representing the Hon Minister for Housing, Lands and Water Resource Management, Reginald Austrie, was the Permanent Secretary of that ministry, Lucien Blackmoore.
“I believe that if we want to strengthen organizations like CAWASA and to realise the benefits to be derived from developing the region’s water sector, it will require collaboration, team work, networking and partnerships,” he told the conference. “Therefore, we must support and encourage CAWASA as the membership embraces the new vision for water management in the Caribbean. Partnership ensure the easy transfer of information and technology among utilities in the region and is required…to meet the challenges of climate change which has already begun to impact negatively on our fresh water resource in very tangible ways.”
President of CAWASA, Christopher Husbands encouraged participants to engage their fellow CAWASA members for networking purposes.
Keynote speaker at the opening ceremony was Division Chief of the Economic Infrastructure Division at the Caribbean Development Bank, Lennox O’Reilly Lewis.
He emphasized the need for improving the resilience of the Caribbean’s water supply systems to the impact of climate change and variability.
“Utilities will be required to improve their response mechanisms to natural disaster events, whether it be slow onset events such as drought or extreme weather events…It is my view that water operators will have to pay a critical role in this regard. There must be an integral part of, one; the diagnosis and prioritization of country specific climate threats, two; the decision making with respect to solutions that are adapted and, three; the implementation of those solutions.”
The objectives of the conference are to update the knowledge and skills of water and wastewater operators through interaction with fellow operators; provide the opportunity to access, view and share the latest ideas in technical equipment, technology, products and services with suppliers; and provide the operators with an opportunity to showcase their technical skills through the operators’ competition.
The event brought together engineers, water and wastewater operators; water and wastewater laboratory analysts, stakeholders and other water industry personnel.