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9.2 Collection and transfer (Topic b)

Sewer systems do exist in some Caribbean countries (e.g. Barbados, Grenada, Trinidad, St. Lucia). According to Clouden "... in 1991 it was estimated that 10% of the population in the Caribbean is connected to some form of sewer system. Some systems are old, undersized and in need of repair, and many discharge without prior treatment into rivers or the marine environment. New systems are planned in Roseau, Dominica, and the south and west coasts of Barbados. These systems, however, tend to require large capital investments and the planning and implementation stages are very long. There are also numerous small or package plants that are operated by both the public and private sector" (Clouden 1999).

Table 9.5 summarises the degree of collection and treatment in the Caribbean Region. For the most part the degree of collection is poor. Even in places where most of the population is served by collection, as in Trinidad and Tobago, the degree of treatment is very poor resulting in reduced environmental quality of rivers and coastal areas.

Table 9.5: Sewage collection and treatment practices and effects in the WCR

Degree of
Degree of Treatment/
Type of Treatment Prevalent
Problems Monitoring Programs
and Standards
Bahamas 15.6% of population Deep well injection of raw sewage; 44% of sewage treatment works (STW) are in poor condition or non-operational High incidence of gastro-enteritis Department of Environmental Health conducts random sampling of coastal waters; Twice monthly sampling to begin; WHO and U.S. EPA standards currently used
British Virgin Islands 1 collection system Pumping of raw sewage to marine outfall; some septic tanks Some wastes return to shoreline, ground water pollution problems Permanent program being established; monthly sampling of total (TC) and faecal (FC) coliforms in bays. U.S. EPA standard of 200 FC/100 mL and 1000 TC/100 mL
Dominica 13.5% of population Raw sewage, septage, and effluent disposal into rivers and ocean; virtually non-existent treatment High incidence of water borne diseases- 65 cases typhoid in 1982  
St. Lucia 13.2% of population. Treatment facility in Rodney Bay Usually untreated raw sewage discharged into ocean & inner harbours; 54% STW are in poor condition or non-operational High bacterial levels in some coastal areas Random sampling of coastal waters conducted by the Ministry of Health in co-operation with CEHI
Trinidad & Tobago Most of population serviced Lagoons, trickling filters, activated sludge; oxidation ditches; package plants; discharge into estuaries and rivers; 46% in poor condition or non-operational Poor maintenance practices; high coastal bacterial counts. Rivers of poor water quality. Institute of Marine Affairs conducts surveys to assess quality of bathing. No legally declared standards yet, but EMA, CEHI, and Trinidad & Tobago Bureau of Standards developing them now.
Montserrat Virtually none, only 1 STW Septic tanks with soil absorption fields (volcanic sandy loam provides good treatment) Inadequate for large developments; otherwise few problems  
Barbados 10% - only for Bridgetown, South Coast system under construction STW for Bridgetown, outfall for South Coast, remainder of island - septic tanks and soakaway pits or suck wells. Few package plants at hotels. Nutrients in coastal zone impacting coral reefs. High coliform counts in some coastal areas. Coastal Zone Management Unit & Environmental Engineering Unit monitor swimming areas for faecal coliform.
Grenada 1 for city of St. George Virtually no treatment in some areas; about 60% STW in okay condition Pollution at Grand Anse Bay  
Guadeloupe (France)   Oxidation ponds   Sanitary quality of bathing waters assessed on a regular basis and before each tourist season. Maps issued to describe water quality. EEC guidelines of 1976 used
St. Vincent 6% - only for City of Kingstown Kingstown has preliminary treatment and outfall. Most of island uses septic tanks and poor quality absorption pits or fields. Few package plants at hotels. Impervious soils and high water table in coastal zone causes overflowing of absorption fields. None
Antigua & Barbuda Mostly for hotels Numerous hotel package plants; 48% in poor condition or non-operational; septic tank effluent directly to sea   Random sampling by Ministry of Health with CEHI; Emphasis on potable water quality; WHO standards used mainly
St. Kitts - Nevis Mostly for hotels and hospitals A few package plants, most in decent condition; the remainder use septic tanks No serious problems, but some septic tank effluent saturation Random sampling of coastal waters conducted by the Ministry of Health in co-operation with CEHI
Cuba     Problems concentrated in Havana with faecal coliforms Ministry of Public Health is in charge of ensuring compliance with standards. Regular monitoring program in place. Standards and guidelines adopted from international organisations & European countries.
Haiti None 40% population (mostly urban) uses latrines and septic tanks; 41% urban + 12% rural have acceptable disposal means 80-90% septage and latrine solids dumped into rivers and sea illegally Human waste disposal is most pressing problem  
Jamaica   109 STW; 21 serve Kingston area; however not enough capacity; 8-10 mgd of inadequately treated sewage is discharged into Kingston harbour; 25% STW are in poor condition or are non-operational Coastal waters are abiotic There is monitoring of sewage and discharge limits for sewage treatment plants. However, no documentation if regular monitoring of coastal waters is conducted.
Source: CEP Technical Report No. 40, 1998, pg13-15.


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