Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Regional Conference on IYS2008, Trinidad

The Regional Conference on IYS2008, organised by the Trinidad & Tobago Water and Sewerage Authority and the Solid Waste Management Company took place in Port of Spain during 2−4 June. Nice conference logo:

Access to ‘improved’ sanitation in Trinidad and Tobago was 100% in both urban and rural areas in 2006, according to the JMP sanitation report for the country. However, in urban areas sewerage coverage is only 19%, with most of the rest on septic tanks and soakaways. Just under a third of the population is served by pit latrines and, while these may represent ‘improved’ sanitation access, it’s likely that many don’t represent ‘adequate’ access (see blog of 14 January). There are also substantial, but not insoluble, problems with wastewater, especially small treatment plants which malfunction either because they’re overloaded or because of inadequate operation and maintenance. So there’s work to be done – but a start has already been made: details here.

Monday 2 June
The opening ceremony dominated the morning. I was invited to give the “feature address” – on sanitation options for the urban and rural poor (a presentation similar to that given in Wageningen). [This was followed by a DVD on endangered animal species – somewhat curious you might think, and you’d be right (but good for jet lag recovery).] In the afternoon there were two presentations – one was an overview of wastewater management in Trinidad & Tobago, the other an economist’s approach to waste management.

Tuesday 3 June
Another opening presentation by me – this time on wastewater management (sewer connection charges, appropriate wastewater treatment, compliance with the Aruba Protocol, reuse). Another DVD – this time on climate change (certainly more relevant than the one shown yesterday). In the afternoon there was a very interesting presentation by Mr David Wilk of the Inter-American Development Bank on IDB’s Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Initiative (applicable to sanitary landfills but also to biogas toilets – see blog of 31 January).

Wednesday 4 June
Two opening addresses: one by the representative of the Minister of Local Government mostly about improved solid waste management, and the other by the Hon. Mustapha Abdul- Hamid, the Minister of Public Utilities, who spoke about the importance of water and wastewater, noting that the government recognises the “great value in wastewater” and that the high-quality treated wastewater from Port of Spain was considered a “NEWater” (rather like in Singapore) which is to be used mostly by local industries but also to a more limited degree in agriculture. The Minister also talked about plans for universal water metering (which should lead to a better charging system for sewerage as well), the need to reduce unaccounted-for water from its current level of ~40% to a target of 25%, and the need to sort out problems with existing septic tank systems and latrines. Overall a really good speech!

Not so much in the late morning or afternoon – at least on sanitation. Conference dinner tonight and fieldvisits tomorrow.