Caribbean Water

by Rud Istvan

The Associated Press ran an alarming news piece on 9/6/13:                     Climate Change Threatens Caribbean’s Water Supply

It was picked up and echoed around the world, from Time Magazine’s Space and Science section in the US to CBC Canada to ABC Australia to ZeeNews India. The headline was everywhere, repeated at the Huffington Post as ‘Caribbean water supplies severely threatened by climate change.” The AP story reported on contemporary expert warnings at an August 2013 UN conference in St. Lucia. The lead AP paragraph is quite clear:

“Experts are sounding a new alarm about the effects of climate change for parts of the Caribbean—the depletion of already strained drinking water throughout much of the region.”

Experts like Avril Alexander, Caribbean coordinator of Global Water Partnership:

“When you look at the projected impact of climate change, a lot of the impact is going to be felt through water.”

Experts like Lystra Fletcher-Paul, Caribbean land/water officer for the UN FAO:                    

 “ Inaction is not an option. The water resources will not be available.”

Yet another anthropogenic global warming alarm, and just in time for IPCC AR5, whose newly released WG1 chapters 7 and 11 say there is high confidence that dry regions will get drier, wet regions will get wetter, and storms will get stormier. “But there is only low confidence in the magnitude.” These Caribbean experts are much more certain—Caribbean water resources will not be available.

Little in this MSM AP news is what it seems. Paragraph 2 starts out saying rising sea levels could contaminate Caribbean fresh water supplies. What a curious assertion. Less dense fresh water floats on top of salt water no matter the sea level. Excessive groundwater drawdown can cause saltwater intrusion from below. That is already a problem in urbanized Broward County, Florida despite proximity to the Everglades.  And on the Tuvalu atolls in the Pacific, where government owned tourist hotels have strained its very limited groundwater capacity. Tuvalu is another urban development problem, not AGW. It was caused by Tuvalu’s government itself, eager to develop ecotourism (diving) after their new Funafuti runway was built with World Bank financing.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Saltwater intrusion doesn’t apply much to Caribbean island groundwater. The islands are mountainous. Pico Duarte in the DR is 3098m. Pic la Selle in Haiti is 2680m. Jamaica’s Blue Mountain is 2256m. Cuba’s Pico Turquina is 1974m. Antigua’s ‘Boggy Peak’ is 402m. St. Croix’ ‘Mount Eagle’ is 355m.  Barbados is only hilly, with a maximum elevation of ‘just’ 343m. Barbados:

Barbados

Rising sea levels will not contaminate Caribbean fresh water supplies.

The AP reported that Jason Johnson, head of the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association, said the real issue is groundwater replenishment.

“Many Caribbean nations rely exclusively on underground water for their needs, a vulnerable source that would be hit hard by climate change effects. That’s the greatest concern. Those weather patterns may change, and there may not necessarily be the means for those water supplies to be replenished at the pace that they have historically been replenished.”

The AP noted some of the islands experienced an unusual dry spell in 2012. That’s weather. But Cedric Van Meerbeck, climatologist with the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology & Hydrology, made the inevitable AGW connection:

“There are a number of indications that the total amount of rainfall in much of the Caribbean would be decreasing by the end of the century.”

Since 2012 was dry, and AR5 WG1 Chapter 7 executive summary says dry will get dryer, perhaps IPCC pronouncements are the indications. But regionally downscaled GCMs cannot make such predictions on multi-decadal time scales. [1]

Intense rains fully ameliorated the unusual 2012 dry spell early in the usual 2013 Caribbean tropical storm season. AR5 WG1 7.6.2 also says wet will get wetter and storms stormier. That worries Barnard Ettinoffe, President of the Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association:

“Heavy rains mean there’s not enough time for water to soak into the ground as it quickly runs off.”

Climate change causes dry to get drier and wet to get wetter according to AR5 WG1 11.3.2.3.1. It threatens Caribbean island water supply both ways!

What is actually going on was clued in the lead AP paragraph above—depletion of already strained water supplies throughout much of the region.

Much of the region is not correct. The AP story cites a 2012 study from British investment risk firm Maplecroft [2] saying Barbados is most at risk, but Cuba and the Dominican Republic also have high water security risk. On the large island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic has 2069m3 of renewable water per capita according the World Bank.[3] Cuba has 3381m3. The UK (another island for comparison sake) has 2311m3 but is not a water risk. The only way Cuba and the Dominican Republic could have a high water security risk rating (when the UK doesn’t) is through some illogic unrelated to water.

Barbados (although verdant, as the above picture proves) does have the least per capita renewable water in the Caribbean, only 284m3. That is because Barbados water consumption has doubled over the past 50 years [4] as its population has grown from ≈232K to ≈280K while its per capita GDP tripled from ≈$4k to ≈$12k. Water has become a major problem, and Barbados doesn’t have the oil wealth to import food (virtual water) or desalinate seawater like Saudi Arabia (86m3). Barbados’ water problem is anthropogenic, but not AGW. It is about unsustainable population growth and economic development on a smallish dryish island–just like on Tuvalu.

Another Caribbean country with current water problems is Antigua/Barbuda, at 590m3. Neither indigenous Caribbean tribes nor Spanish conquistadors settled those islands because of insufficient fresh water. The British did later. The country’s population has almost doubled from ≈54k in 1960 to ≈90k today. That always eventually causes finite resource problems. And now has in naturally dry Antigua/Barbuda.

Climate change does not threaten Caribbean water supplies. Population growth and economic development already do on some of the smaller islands. And they are using climate change to ‘extort’ financial aid (e.g. for desalination) from the usual rich ‘guilty’ AGW culprits.

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change organized this regional conference (at St. Lucia’s luxurious Bay Gardens Hotel/Resort) for Caribbean environment ministers and politicians. The UN organizer’s locally televised purpose was to give “these less developed country ministers and politicians the information and tools to know what to ask for in the negotiations leading up to the new world agreements of 2015”. That starts at COP19 in Warsaw in November 2013.

It is no coincidence the conference was held on St. Lucia. Its minister presently heads the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).  AOSIS says its 44 member states comprise 30% of developing countries, 20% of UN member states, and 5% of world population. The AOSIS agenda for COP19 is clear from its PR after being disappointed at June 2013 Bonn meetings:

At the closing of the latest round of U.N. climate talks, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a group of 44 low-lying and coastal countries that are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, released the following statement:

“After losing two weeks to needless procedural wrangling, it is worth recalling the scale of the challenge we face and the precious little time remaining to meet it… Therefore an international mechanism to address the permanent injury our islands are experiencing [emphasis added] must be established this year at the Warsaw conference.”

Tuvalu is the AOSIS member most aggressively agitating for UN ‘climate change aid’, having experienced saltwater intrusion caused by government tourist hotel development. Hence the AP story’s odd second paragraph, which is unrelated to the Caribbean but right in the AOSIS (Tuvalu) lobbying sweet spot.

2010-01-19-Tuvalu copy

Hey mon, its Babylon politricks. (H/T to Bob Marley and Jamaica, a Caribbean island of 2.7 million people enjoying 2473m3 renewable water per capita and fantastic reggae music.)


[1] Pielke Sr., Regional Climate Downscaling: What’s the Point, EOS 93: 52-53 (2012)

[2] Maplecroft Global Risk Analytics, info@maplecroft.com

[3] Available at data.worldbank.org/indicator/ER.H2O.INTR.PC

[4] Barbados Free Press editorial on water rationing 2/28/10

JC comment:  This is a guest post submitted to me via email. As always with a guest post, keep your comments on topic and polite.

55 responses to “Caribbean Water

  1. Is there anything, which needs massive foreign aid, that isn’t caused by “climate change”?

  2. I think the authors have missed the real problem. The West Indies cricket team has suffered irreparably from climate change. Years ago they used to have superb fast bowlers. Malcom Marshall, the wonderful Curtly Ambrose, whose mother used to ring a bell ever time he took a wicket in England, which was often. Thanks to climate change these days are behind us now. Marshall died, Ambrose? Who knows.

    We absolutely have to stop emitting all this CO2 and polluting the atmosphere in this disgusting way if we are to retain and recover our heritage and go back to dominating the world at cricket. A world without West Indian cricket is not a world worth living in. Will no one listen and do what is needed now to save it?

    Even if the chances are very small that this is the cause and the solution, consider the risks, and think of the cricket, and act now, before it may be too late.

    Where are the fast bowlers of yesteryear?

    Thank you.

    • Going back a bit further, from Wikipedia “1950 saw another tour of England, the series saw the emergence for the West Indies of their great spinning duo, Sonny Ramadhin and Alf Valentine.”

    • I suggest we dial the climate back to 1960. There is something deeply wrong with a world where Gary Sobers has to move to Adelaide. (No, I’m not Victorian. I just like doing Adelaide jokes, okay?)

    • Does climate change make wickets sticky?

    • Well, Don, Judith has often enough outlined the wicket problem we face.

  3. Reality Checking . . . Really!

    The AP is top of the food chain when it comes creating scary stories designed to fear monger and create hysteria.

    Modern journalism . . . Invent, torque, twist.

  4. This is all president Lyndon Johnson’s fault. In his 1964 campaign, I recall that he claimed if elected his administration could start to “de-salt the oceans”. But once elected he forgot this project as his attention was taken up by other immediate problems. The oceans remain heavily polluted by all that salt; if it were removed, there would be plenty of fresh water world-wide.

  5. “WG1 chapters 7 and 11 say there is high confidence that dry regions will get drier, wet regions will get wetter, and storms will get stormier.”

    IOW, they simply extrapolated.

    • Gee we had better warn those West Indians to start building boats.

      Our illustrious global warming advisers told us it was never going to rain enough to fill our dams again. It was dry, until we commissioned salt water desalination plants, then it rained so much the floods almost washed half of Oz out into the Pacific ocean.

      Now our dams are full, $6 billion worth of desal plants are mothballed, never having pumped a drop of fresh water, & many people are still rebuilding after flood damage. Amazingly some people still believe these clowns.

  6. Thank you, Rud, for your efforts to keep up with official propaganda!

    Those in the old USSR learned to grin and bear it.

    • Thanks. My usual expose target is a technical paper that is obviously just wrong, yet got through peer review, then got overly alarmist MSM coverage.
      This MSM headline peaked my interest because my family has vacationed in the Caribbean. The reefs off the Rock Resort on St Croix are where my kids learned how to snorkel before they took up scuba. Finding the YouTube video news report in which the UNCFCC organizer actually articulated the true agenda meant it became an irresistible essay for my next book.

    • Rud,
      Thanks for providing some detailed CONTEXT to the potable water situation in the developing islands in the Caribbean.

      A Robert D. Kaplan- “The Coming Anarchy- Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War” comment comes to mind (pg 174 in The Dangers of Peace chapter): “Because information as it is disseminated to a large and imperfectly educated audience becomes vulgarized , the media- and well-heeled pressure groups access to it- will increasingly create mass hysteria over single issues by the crude dispersion of facts untempered by context.”

    • Rud;
      Notes for your book.

      ¨¡Eso es lo fantástico! ¡Es una oportunidad única para recobrar la atención del mundo!
      ¨ – C. Figueres 2010
      United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres – since earlier this year – stopped by her hometown on the build-up to Cancun. In San Jose, she spoke with ´La Nacion.´ Her good news for her country-men is that mandatory ´donations´ from developed nations will be available to the first applicants [developing states] to submit plans for Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions [NAMA]. She implored her neighbors to finish the paperwork for infrastructure and mass transit improvements, ¨!The world will notice Costa Rica, again! ¨ {My translation.}
      Bad news had been reported the day. CR´s Canciller, Rene Castro: as a developing state, Costa Rica could no longer depend on aid to un-developed countries.
      The bad news for tax-payers in the industrialized world: These ´contributions´ are mandatory.

      The following have disappeared from la Nacion archive; can someone drive the Wayback machine to confirm the reportage?

      1. http://www.nacion.com/2010-10-11/AldeaGlobal/Relacionados/AldeaGlobal2547029.aspx

      2. http://www.nacion.com/2010-10-10/AldeaGlobal/Relacionados/AldeaGlobal2546964.aspx

  7. Projected problems with water in the Caribbean? Something must be done! Send some money to someone in Switzerland or China or somewhere that isn’t here. A few of the financial geniuses of the early millennium are now on day release. They’ll know what to do in more detail.

  8. This is almost as good a concept as Greenpeace sending the Arctic Sunrise to the Pechora Sea.

    1.) Average folks already tend to assume that dinky islands are obviously going to be prone to water-problems. (Wrongly, in many cases.)

    That makes it tough to startle the audience, by claiming (wrongly, in many cases) that Global Warming might create water-problems for islands. “Yeah … wut?”

    2.) Soft-core water-crises are regularly-scheduled events in urban areas all across the USA, and around the world. City people are constantly made aware that water-shortages are a feature of modern life.

    Everybody deals with water-supply limits, and everybody already knows it. “Don’t they?”
    =====

    I know retired people in the snowbird Meccas of the American Southwest. They do RVs, and often vacation in Mexico. A minor fad or frenzy with these folks, is to fit their RV with extra water tankage, or carry large supplies of packaged water, so they can avoid the hassles of resupplying, in Mexico.

    They pride themselves on how long they can spend south of the border, without using any sources of water, besides what they brought from home. And it’s not the safety concern – it’s the obnoxious hassle.
    =====

    I see some cruise lines working the Caribbean, who make PR-hay with both the cruising public, and with their island-hosts, by arranging to use their shipboard water-making equipment to send freshwater ashore. Whether they really need it or not.

    The Navy has long made a practice of charging headlong through Typhoons, so they can be seen tied up at sticken islands, pumping water & electricity ashore.

    All these folks really need is a little bleach so they can disinfect their water … since actually, it’s pouring down outa the sky at an inch per hour, and they’re already standing in it up to their butt. ;)

  9. The Maldives had terrible problems with climate change. Then the injection of billions into new airports, hotels and resorts alleviated the need for aqualung cabinet meetings and so on.

    $30,000 can buy you a night at Velaa Private Island Resort. Don’t tell the klimatariat or they’ll all want to come. Keep all that trash in Cancun.

  10. They need more lakes to capture the normally lost water runoff with deep permeable well shafts at the bottom of the lakes to speed the ground water replacement per capita. No brainer.

    Why are all these bureaucracy alarmists always drilling for continuous money flows from others and not simply curing their own ills of their people. Greed.

  11. Mikey the Fraudster says . . .

    Well that explains why hurricanes are at record low levels. All that missing fresh water.

    Just like the IPCC predicted.

    Oh, wait a minute . . . I need a few hundred $billion more to “tune” my computer models.

  12. MSM beatup aimed at humanity’s insatiable appetite for bad news and based on flawed science.

  13. It is obvious to Blind Freddy that the Caribbean is suffering from lack of pirates.

    The correlation between a decrease in the number of pirates, and an increase in global warming is astonishing – even spine tingling! The recent “pause” is obviously due to the documented increase in Somalian pirate numbers, combined with areas such as the China Sea.

    The IPCC should call for seed funding to start up piracy operations in the Caribbean. This will create jobs, and the flow on effects will be felt in shipbuilding, the cannon and cutlass manufacturing sector, and of course the entertainment industry, catering for all the robust and rousting seafarers on their return to port.

    What’s not to like?

    Live well and prosper,

    Mike Flynn.

  14. Leftist propaganda press did you miss this news piece? Climate Change Threatens Mayan Civilization

  15. Islanders who appreciate clean water certainly should appreciate energy and if not they will soon be owned by the Chinese.

  16. This is the next phase.
    AS CAGW fails to resonate and withers away, save our precious bodily fluids,er ban dihydrogen monoxide, er the shortage of potable water..
    is already being tested as the new meme of the concern trolls.

  17. As one who has been visiting and sailing the Caribbean for nearly fifty years and who has had relatives with second homes in the islands, I can attest that it is impossible to generalize about the adequacy of the chain’s potable water supply. It is well and long known that, due to local weather patterns, certain islands are “dry” while an adjacent island has plenty. It was while visiting the islands as an adolescent that I first became acquainted with rainfall-dependent water supplies, rainfall-collection systems and cisterns. Some islands have always had problems (e.g., the U.S. Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Martin) while others have abundant supplies due to montane topography (e.g., Dominica, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic) vis-à-vis the tradewind belt that results in extensive rain forests).

  18. Retrograde Orbit

    You guys are pitiful.
    Did anybody actually read the AP article? Including Rud?
    It clearly says for example: “Climate is maybe not the biggest factor, but it’s a drop in an already full bucket of water,”
    It also clearly says: “Overuse of wells elsewhere has caused saltwater seepage and a deterioration of potable water underground”
    It also clearly says: “Some of the possible solutions include limits on development, …”
    Rud also misunderstand the section about heavy rains addressed in his “amelioration” paragraph: The islands need a steady rainfall pattern to replenish groundwater; heavy rains merely run off at the surface.
    How Rud can say: “Little in this MSM AP news is what it seems.” is beyond me. The article is clear and comprehensive – all Rud adds is the “OMG the alarmists are coming” spin.

    • k scott denison

      So Orbit, if the article says all that, why does the headline start either Climate Change…

    • k scott denison

      *with* not either

    • The article weighed heavily on climate change, including drier weather and rising sea levels for the first 8 paragraphs and it was only towards the end that it was pointed out that the factors you mention also contributed to the problem, which is being experienced in many capital cities in Australia as well.

      The headline used and general spin of the article was IMO a beatup designed to sell more papers and to foment concern and panic in the minds of their readers and reinforce the messages behind the IPCC’s AR5.

      So if our commentry is “pitiful” in your opinion RO, I would be interested in your views on global warming in general and whether the piece in question generally supports your world view in relation to the impact of human activity on the environment generally.

    • Whether heavy rains runoff before they can recharge water tables and aquafers, depends on local ground-chemistry & geology. Many areas of heavy rainfall absorb it readily. Some have surface-runoff.

      Limestone & coraline chemistry tends to become very porous. Volcanic rubble & ash, and uplifted formations, likewise.

      Overall, surface conditions favoring strong runoff appear to be the exception. Each island or group will have to be looked at, to say if surface-shedding is a problem or not.

    • “You guys are pitiful.”

      Read the headline, then cast a quick glance in the mirror if you can stand it.

    • “OMG the alarmists are coming” spin

      …without understanding that the local government and the people who live there undoubtedly are entirely to blame for everything outside of nature that happens there, mentioning global warming as the cause of problems there is like throwing in the possibility of aliens drinking too much water.

  19. Ultimately, small islands are the ideal place to “ship” water into.

    Shipping water is not the problem: The problem is transporting the brought-in water any substantial distance from the dock.

    Water supplies brought in by ship or barge are readily accessible to everyone on a smaller island. Distribution on somewhat larger islands is still vastly less problematic & expensive, than in continental contexts.

    In a world of mounting water-shortages, the Caribbean Islands could very well in fact become steadily more favorable, water-wise.

  20. Rud Istvan

    Thanks for exposing another bit of “CAGW alarmist rubbish”.

    Max

  21. Structures in Bermuda are built to sende the water that falls on roofs into cisterns. There’s a business of trucking water around. People with excess water sell it those who need water. When I was last in Hamilton, 4 years ago, they were building a pipeline to distribute wate.

  22. This little essay is really funny and in all ways satisfying. The water scaremongers and their media supporters are totally clueless about fresh water on Caribbean islands. What a hoot!

    • Thanks Theo. your correctly articulate it’s highest aspirations. A hoot.
      At the expense of MSM and the UNFCCC.
      Regards.

  23. Retrograde Orbit

    Sorry for the pitiful
    But the article says in the first sentence in the first paragraph: “… the depletion of already strained drinking water …” And that’s exactly what the article was about. There is absolutely nothing in the article that is not what it appears to be.
    Rud is seeing alarmist ghosts.
    If you are a skeptic be skeptical about everything.

    • From the source itself:

      “THE BIG STORY”

      “CLIMATE CHANGE THREATENS CARIBBEAN’S WATER SUPPLY”

      Hard to escape the intent here. Sounds & looks straight-up alarmist.

    • Retrograde,

      The problem is that

      Skeptics see errors in warmists
      Warmists see errors in skeptics

      This blame game doesn’t solve the problem: Society is crumbling!

  24. Rud,

    Society is very sick now. The question is how can society return to sanity?

    Fear, anger and resentments, whether justified or not, are blocking progress.

    I have been guilty of venting anger myself, knowing that my government was less than candid about
    1. The Sun
    2. The Atomic Nucleus
    3. Enforcing the Constitution

    But I also know that FEAR of nuclear annihilation convinced world leaders to deceive the public in 1945.

    Would I have reacted differently?

    I do not know. So I need to let go of anger and try to help find a way for society to move past mistakes of 1945 so we can all reclaim our birthright to live happy, joyous and free.

  25. Istvan makes many basic mistakes in this analysis. While mountains on many Caribbean islands rise up from the sea, most of the population and infrastructure lives on the coast. Aquifers and water supplies are often (when they exist, see the comment on water collection in Bermuda for example for when they don’t really) local to the coastal cities, and thus vulnerable to sea water intrusion. The nature of the climate with wet and dry seasons exacerbates the situation

    There is a bunch of other childish misdirection in Istvan’s writing, for example, Jamaica and Cuba may have mountains, but the highest point in Bermuda is 76 m, and in the Bahamas 63 m. Further, the issue is not sea water intrusion due to sea level rise or subsidence due to depletion but sea water intrusion due to sea level rise and subsidence due to depletion. For a summary of the issues, the AR4 WGII Chapter 16 is a useful place to start

    http://www.ipcc-wg2.gov/AR4/website/16.pdf

    Or wait a couple of months for the AR5 WGII

    • Sorry, Eli, simply claiming that Rud Istvan has made many mistakes in his analysis is unsupported gibberish, which no one in his right mind will take seriously.

      Come with specifics, if you can.

      Max

    • To quote Istvan
      ———————–
      Saltwater intrusion doesn’t apply much to Caribbean island groundwater. The islands are mountainous. Pico Duarte in the DR is 3098m. Pic la Selle in Haiti is 2680m. Jamaica’s Blue Mountain is 2256m. Cuba’s Pico Turquina is 1974m. Antigua’s ‘Boggy Peak’ is 402m. St. Croix’ ‘Mount Eagle’ is 355m. Barbados is only hilly, with a maximum elevation of ‘just’ 343m.

      Rising sea levels will not contaminate Caribbean fresh water supplies.
      ————————

      Eli’s pointing out that much of the population and most of the hydrological infrastructure of the islands that have mountains is at sea level is geography, not unsupported gibberish. Eli’s pointing out that many of the islands, including the Bahamas and Bermuda are low lying tropical atolls is not unsupported gibberish. Eli’s pointing to Chapter 16 of the AR4 where these matters are discussed and there are further references is not gibberish either,

      And, of course, were anyone interested, the rest of Istvan’s ravings are pretty easy to toss in the gibberish pile. Manaker of course is free to gibber where ever he wants.

  26. “Yet another anthropogenic global warming alarm, and just in time for IPCC AR5, whose newly released WG1 chapters 7 and 11 say there is high confidence that dry regions will get drier, wet regions will get wetter, and storms will get stormier.”

    Confidence is free. Or at least it is for those who have too much of it.

    Hamilton, Bermuda: Annual total precipitation 1409.7 mm
    Oxford, Central England: Annual total precipitation 643.5mm

    Which one is “wet” and which one is “dry”? Answers on a postcard…

  27. One is an atoll, the other not. The question is which will have freshwater supply issues in the coming decades. Perhaps also you would like to explain why Bermuda is desalinating sea water and Oxford not.

  28. I have spent the last ten years living on my sailboat in the Caribbean and traveling through the Bahamas. There is not a single problem — as Istvan points out, there are dry islands and wet islands, depending on location and geography. Much of the Bahamas is dry, desert-type islands, but fresh water wells are possible on most. Hispaniola is big enough to have many different climes on one island, cactus desert in the Southwest (looks like the high desert of California or Arizona) to true rain-forest.

    Most recently I spent two years in the Virgin Islands, which sit just East of Puerto Rico. The majority of the homes on St Thomas get their water by collecting rain water into cisterns from their roofs. The island has a de-sal plant (which is also the power plant). When one’s cistern runs dry, one buys a truckload of water which is dumped into one’s cistern. 2012 was a dryish year, but no one suffered. It is, of course, the urban (city) users and hotels that use the most of the de-sal water.

    Life has been thus in the Caribbean since the modern era — and it is unlikely to change. The trade winds will blow across the Atlantic, pick up moisture, and dump it on the islands as Nature sees fit — sometimes too little, sometimes way too much, and like Goldilocks, sometimes Jus’ Right!

  29. As a director of the Santa Clara Valley Water District in northern California, I would like to inform Rud Istvan that the existence of mountains in a general area does not prevent saltwater intrusion. In Los Angeles, for example, the 3000m San Gabriel Mountains are physically adjacent to the city in the same county, and still they have to spend millions of dollars annually fighting saltwater intrusion. Contrast that to Cuba’s highest peak, which is closer to Port-au-Prince Haiti than it is to Havana.

    It’s also important to note that warmer temperatures increase water demand from both artificial and natural landscapes, which will further depress freshwater tables and increase saltwater intrusion.

    Istvan might consider doing further research on these issues before he reaches for what appears to be simplistic conclusions. Climate change makes water supply problems worse as a general matter. Islanders (and for what it’s worth, everyone else) may not have handled their other water supply issues perfectly, but that’s no excuse to keep greenhouse gas emissions high.

    • Brian Schmidt,

      It is good to see a professional & public servant on the forum!

      Of course, mountains don’t totally prevent seawater intrusion. But they can provide water tables at higher elevations, and above sea level (which normally won’t experience intrusion, ‘regardless’). The hydraulic head of aquifiers situated above sea level (within mountains) acts to ‘push back’ against intrusion.

      Overwhelmingly, the main driver of migration from the ocean-aquifers into freshwater aquifers under dry land, is simply excessive withdrawal of freshwater. Here, we see California’s problem: a large human population, which chooses to use large amounts of water.

      Mountains ‘help’, especially if they receive water, and are capable of holding it. Caribbean Islands get periodic deluges, which on elevated terrain can become elevated aquifers that apply a hydraulic head against seawater.

      I live on the rugged & wet Olympic Peninsula, where we have many springs on elevated sites. “Where is this water coming from?!” I can show you water issuing from the crests of isolate high ridges. Elevate aquifer head – often at quite a large distance – is responsible …. and this head – we known from exploratory oil well logs – depresses the salt water aquifer at – and beyond! – the coastline, to quite a large extent.

      Welcome to the debate! :)

      Ted

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s