Implementation of adaptation measures to address the absence of fresh water and coastal vulnerabilities in Bequia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Submitted by Michele Lopez | published 14th Nov 2014 | last updated 21st Nov 2014


Paget Farm community in Bequia, with Fisheries Complex in the foreground

Background

Bequia is the largest of the Grenadines islands, approximately 7 square miles in size, with a population of 4,874 (1991 census). Due to its size and geology, the island has no surface water and no known underground source. Approximately 30% of the island is covered with scrub vegetation of no market significance. The livelihood of the people of Bequia is tied to the surrounding coastal sea. Most natives are fisher folks or sailors. Given the absence of surface water and the calciferous nature of the soil, fresh water resource is a major issue for Bequia.

The Photovoltaic System

A renewable energy (photovoltaic) system was installed on the roof of the hangar at the Bequia Airport and connected to the national VINLEC grid, and is monitored via an installed meter. A power purchase agreement will be reached with VINLEC in order that all energy required for the operation of the desalination plant, will be guaranteed, while surplus electrical energy is transmitted to the island’s grid to allow for expansion, but also to reduce energy production, operation, and maintenance costs. 


Hangar at Bequia Airport with solar panels installed on the roof

The Desalination Plant

The desalination plant has been built to specifications to enable provision of water for about 1,000 inhabitants, the projected population of Paget Farms by 2018, while working at approximately 65% of its full capacity. The water distribution system includes a permeate tank of 16,000 liters capacity, installed immediately after the desalination plant, plus a water storage and distribution tank of 90,000 liters capacity.


Exterior and interior view of the containerized SWRO plant installed in Bequia

Lessons Learned

The approximately one thousand residents of The Paget Farms community who previously depended on an unreliable supply of water derived from rain water harvesting are the immediate beneficiaries of this pilot project. The renewable energy supply installed to provide electricity for the operation of the plant guarantees clean and environmentally safe source of power, but also generates a surplus that allows expanded provision of services to this and neighbouring communities. Revenue can be generated through sales of bottled water (from the plant). This opportunity exists because Bequia is a sail-boat tourist destination, and this plant allows for local water supply that could replace supplies previously imported from Kingstown. An important lesson learned was that institutional arrangements for the management and operations should be finalized very early during project execution; this would enable a seamless and short period of transition between the procurement and installation of the components of the system and handing-over to the responsible authority or agency. This would also enable more effective technical supervision, greater quality assurance of the project during implementation, and help to establish ownership of the facility.