Tarik Smith thmbA new collaborative study examined the challenges facing Bermuda’s water management infrastructure, and identified current and future threats to this “cornerstone of the Island’s cultural heritage”.

Collaborative study of the management of Bermuda’s tank water leads to key findings.

Tarik SmithTarik Smith

Human health risks associated with drinking local tank water could be significantly reduced through increased public awareness of tank water as “raw water” and the adoption of appropriate disinfection procedures. This is one of the key findings of a new collaborative study examining the challenges facing Bermuda’s water management infrastructure, and identifying current and future threats to this “cornerstone of the Island’s cultural heritage”.

A Bermuda College 2017 Corange Science public lecture on water management led to the new study, which took just three months to produce several key findings. Spearheaded by Koom Consulting (a private water engineering and project management consultancy founded by Bermudian Tarik Smith, and based in Spain), the study was produced in conjunction with the Department of Health, the Bermuda College Science faculty and students in the Division of Arts & Sciences, Greenrock (local environmental group) and Middleway Media (Kristin Alexander of Middleway is the creator of the Bermuda documentary "Trusting Rain”, an independent environmental research and documentary film).

Such was the interest in the lecture that a new course called Drinking Water Quality Control will be offered through the Bermuda College in June and October 2018. The study noted that community education should play a vital role in creating awareness and empowering residents to manage their tank water supplies more effectively.
Another key finding is that there are striking differences in education and awareness concerning rainwater harvesting, not only between residents, foreign workers and tourists, but also from an intergenerational perspective. In addition, the study found that, to our detriment, water has become less of a social and environmental concern and more of an economic commodity.

The consortium was launched after Tarik Smith’s public forum presentation on sustainable water management generated keen interest and follow-up from attendees. Of particular interest are the direct applicability of the subject to the current situation of water management in Bermuda and the links between the local water supply and residents’ health and well-being.

Cited, too, were the “significant percentage” of Bermuda’s residents that were “either totally oblivious to the rainwater harvesting model” or took it for granted. The absence of signage in local hotels and lack of educational materials promoting water conservation was noted. These were contributing factors, it was found, to the loss of the “cultural heritage” of water conservation.

David Kendell, Director of the Department of Health said, “The collection of water is central to virtually every residence in Bermuda, and the importance of regular tank maintenance and the conservation of uncontaminated water is vital to public health. This study has highlighted the need to educate younger people who perhaps are not as aware of the responsibilities involved in optimizing our unique water collection systems.”

Tarik Smith of Koom Consulting added, “There appears to be a significant imbalance between the wealth of information available on good water management practices in Bermuda, and the percentage of the local population that is aware of and apply such practices. Through a collective effort of research, capacity-building and outreach, sustainable water management could once again become an integral part of our culture.”

Dean of the Division of Arts and Science at Bermuda College, Ms. Tammy Richardson said she was gratified that the College could bring the issue to the public arena. “As Bermuda is unique in its collection of water, the Division of Arts & Science saw the opportunity for our students and the community to have someone with Mr. Smith’s expertise as our guest for Corange Science (2017). This project is a direct result of the feedback received from many sectors following the public forum. I am excited that under Mr. Smith’s leadership, productive work has continued and expanded beyond Corange Science Week.”

The study also recognised that further research or development was needed in a number of broad areas, including: gauging public awareness and the understanding of the concept of tank water as “raw” water; the potential effects of microbial contamination and/or sediment on the quality of water; sustainable methods of water quality control assurance; the status of “water catchment hills” in Bermuda; and climate change and the potential effects on long-term efficiency of rainwater harvesting.
The study concluded that only an holistic and long-term strategic approach to water resource management would secure the sustainability and resilience of Bermuda’s “intangible cultural heritage”.


Editors’ note:
For water conservancy, testing and disinfection procedures, visit: Safe Water