Caribbean Householders To Benefit From Rainwater Harvesting Tools

Kingston, Jamaica – Monday, November 23, 2020 – Householders stand to benefit the most from a set of installation guidelines and tools, including a calculator that can let them know just how much rainfall they can potentially capture based on their location, as well as how to cost-effectively build and scale household rainwater harvesting systems.

This is one of several benefits of the Caribbean Regional PPCR’s investment in Rainwater Harvesting across the Caribbean region, which was shared at a webinar entitled “Rainwater Harvesting in the Caribbean: Past, Present and Possible Future”.

The project took the approach of examining the possible barriers to households utilizing rainwater capture and addressing these barriers in a systemic way. The project’s approach also acknowledged the fact that for people who have access to public utilities, rainwater harvesting is usually for secondary, non-potable uses.

Clive Carpenter, Head of Water Resources at GWP put it simply when presenting on the project’s approach of RWH Incremental Risk Reduction “we have to focus household investments into smaller upgrades than just looking at replacing entire system as this makes it more affordable … we have to empower householders to identify how water quality can be improved with small investments.”

This was against the background of research showing that householders tend not to invest in rainwater harvesting because there is a perception that creating your own system is expensive.

Expanding on the concept of Incremental Risk Reduction, Richard Coutou, Environmental Analyst at Environmental Solutions Limited, spoke about a “ladder of technologies”, each building on the next to create a better and safer water capture system “it considers water quality and water quantity, as you go up the ladder it gets more expensive”. Coutou also introduced the Water Balance Calculator, a spreadsheet that homeowners input the variables of roof size, gutter percentage and tank size, to determine if their system can meet their household needs.

Water safety of captured water was also discussed, with Dr. Lindonne Glasgow of St. George’s University in Grenada stating “what we want to do is eliminate or minimize any hazard”. She outlined two approaches, the UNICEF approach to drinking water safety, and the WHO water health guidelines. She also shared the DSSP Tool, a checklist that householders can use to assess the water quality risks in their immediate environment. In terms of specific regional risks, she shared that while Gastrointestinal Illnesses aren’t usually an issue in water captured in the Caribbean, high levels of arsenic from the annual Saharan Dust is a relative concern.

Robert Stephens & Cornelia Walters-Jones, presenting on behalf of the JN Water Project, highlighted not only the Rainwater Harvesting course that the Water Project created, but in their presentation announced an upcoming set of courses to be taught across the region through partnership with the University of Technology and HEART Trust NTA.

Outputs from the Rainwater Harvesting Component of the Caribbean Regional PPCR include: An Assessment of Rainwater Harvesting Initiatives in the Caribbean before 2019, Climate and Water Quality Risk Assessment & Design for Improving Household Security, Rainwater Harvesting Training Report as well as design guidelines for building and scaling home rainwater harvesting systems, starting from as small as a 55-gallon barrel. All these resources are freely available to members of the public on the Caribbean Regional PPCR Website.

The Investment Plan for the Caribbean Regional Track of the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience is a 10.9 Million USD, 5-year project, executed through the Project Management Unit of UWI’s Mona Office of Research and Innovation. Project funding comes from the Climate Investment Funds (CIF), with financial oversight from the Inter-American Development Bank.

The project includes six countries: Jamaica, Haiti, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and St. Lucia.