EXERCISE A: The water of your island
Now, it is you turn. Remember how we used a dashboard as a metaphor? It would be nice to have something as simple as a fuel gauge in a car to monitor the water assets of your island. Although the water system is a bit more complicated, you can map out the water resources of your island with four sets of actions: (1) finding data on the precipitation, (2) searching for someone who can describe the hydrogeology, (3) making field research, and (4) understanding how climate change might affect you.
Which is the nearest meteorological station? Can you get accurate data from it?
How much does it rain from month to month?
What is the average yearly rainfall in mm?
A simple rule is that 80% of the rain during the period from October to March creates groundwater.
What is the average temperature in winter and in summer?
2 GROUNDWATER FORMATION
Has there previously been an academic hydrogeological research done on your island (it doesn’t have to be recent – hydrogeology doesn’t change on a daily basis)?
Are there any technical reports from consultants searching for water?
Can you extract a simple, non-academic, understandable description of your island’s hydrogelogical situation?
3 FIELD RESEARCH
Make a map of natural water resources such as springs, streams, ponds and lakes on your island. Map all public and private wells.
Visit the natural water sources of your island with someone who can tell you about water quality, the amount/flow of water, and what it is used for.
Meet with people who have private wells and rainwater reservoirs. There can be important local knowledge on water. Quality? Flow? Salinity? Make interviews with farmers and tourism entrepreneurs.
Get a good overview of the local water scheme: where does it get its raw water from, how is it processed, how and where is it stored, how is it distributed, how much does it cost the community and how much do the consumers pay? Are there any major problems, is there salt-water intrusion? What about leaks?
Do explain the purpose of your questions. Being over-curious, you might frighten people and officials. In the end, we just want to make better use of the water resources we have.
Always take notes and photos when on field trips, indicate places exactly on a map.
4 CLIMATE CHANGE
How does/will climate change affect your island? Have these risks been accurately described in a reliable way? Are these risks accepted – even included in long-term plans?
Having answered these four sets of questions, you are well prepared to move on. You have a good understanding of your water resources. Let’s turn a page to see what demand there is for water.