For every three drops of water that fall, only one is saved. The other two – or 66% of rainfall – are lost

Water Shortages

It’s that time of year again. Hot, humid, litchis, bats and our perennial water scarcity. A repeat of last year, and the year before. It’s déjà vu all over again.   

It rains a lot in Mauritius. There should not be any water shortages on the island as we are blessed with this precious commodity.

Look at the chart below from the local Meteorological Services for an idea of how much water is sprinkled on the island.  With the exception of dry October and November, the rest of the year is bountiful.  

Period

LTM 1981-2010

Period

LTM 1981-2010

 

Jan

268

Sep

100

 

Feb

335

Oct

76

 

Mar

264

Nov

79

 

Apr

210

Dec

175

 

May

148

Summer

1331

 

Jun

110

Winter

668

 

Jul

129

Annual

1999

 

Aug

105

 

 

 

Mean rainfall over Mauritius for the month of February 2018:  336 mm

Normal mean rainfall over Mauritius for the month of February (1981 – 2010): 335 mm                            

Percentage rainfall over Mauritius for the month of February 2018:  100%

 

On the high plateaus, it rains even more which is another advantage to distribute the collected water downstream to the lower mainland. No mechanical assistance is needed.

But why are there shortages of water if there’s so much rainfall in Mauritius? For as far as I can remember, there has always been a problem with water supply. Yet, it rains a lot. Where does all the water go?

For every three drops of water that fall, only one is saved. The other two – or 66% of rainfall – are lost. Put differently, if it rains for three hours, rainfall for the first hour only is collected, for the other two hours, it is a gift that is lost. Since the Brits left fifty years ago, only one reservoir – Midlands Dam – has been built. Yes, only one in fifty years. And it leaks! Water cut off in Mauritius has been a common occurrence. For a country that aspires to become a high revenue economy by 2020, it would be an oxymoron to have a high per capita income with a water supply problem.

We are now witnessing the ill-effect of not having a proper water collection system amidst a mismanaged CWA littered with crony appointments. We are told the problem lies with water distribution, in other words with old, leaky and plugged pipes. But aren’t these same pipes carrying water to the end users at other times of the year without a distribution cutoff schedule? This argument doesn’t hold water; it leaks badly.  Concurrently, we keep reading about empty reservoirs with gauge measurements nearing drought levels. That’s where the focus should be. Water collection.

There’s no appropriate viaduct and proper drainage systems to redirect rainwater for domestic use. Additionally, proper drainage will surely help alleviate the constant flooding that we have been seeing lately.  Talk about killing two predator birds with one stone.    

In the end, no government, going back to the 1960s, has ever deemed it important to find solutions to a problem that shouldn’t even exist in light of the abundance of rain that we get. Instead, we witness that all their energies are focused on big construction projects where the benefits to the population at large are at best dubious. Why, though?

Saoud Baccus

 

Post Author: admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *