Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 21, 2018 (SKNIS): Minister of Education, the Honourable Shawn Richards, during a recent sitting of Parliament on December 13, said that according to a map provided by the Physical Department there are many developed areas sitting on the Basseterre Valley Aquifer where the new Basseterre High School (BHS) is to be built. The aquifer spans approximately 5230 acres.

“When you look at it (the map), the whole of Newtown is on the aquifer, Bird Rock is on the aquifer, here [Government Headquarters] is on the aquifer, St. Peter’s is on the aquifer, the Village is on the aquifer. All of these areas are on the aquifer. The water flows from those areas to where they have the wells,” he said. The minister added that when water flows, whether it is from rain or otherwise, the water will seep through the earth into the aquifer.

“When you see the ghauts running for example, it is because the soil has become saturated and so the ghauts begin to run, but water seeps through the soil down into the aquifer,” the minister explained. “So when you hear people speaking about the aquifer, they must tell you where the entire aquifer is. If there is a concern in terms of seepage into the aquifer and water flowing downstream then there must be a concern about the hundreds of homes sitting on the aquifer. The well point is where the water eventually accumulates, but the water flows from everywhere here to the well points; it flows downhill.”

Minister Richards said that he has asked an expert how close BHS will be to the closest wellfield. The individual has stated that it will be 1000 feet away from the wellfield.

“I asked if it is downstream of the wellfield, the individual said yes. It is downstream of the wellfield so that even if anything were to go into the soil, it flows down to the sea, not up. I then asked the individual whether other businesses or business places are closer to the wellfield, they said yes. The church that is next to the Caribbean Credit Card Corporation is closer to the wellfield and more upstream of the wellfield.

…The Ministry of Health, Ministry of Sustainable Development, FND Credit Union, and Seventh Day Adventist School are closer to the wellfield than the new BHS. Even mechanic shops are closer to the wellfield than BHS.”

The government has also taken the advice of water experts to install a sewage treatment plant off-site to treat the water coming from the new BHS.

“We have sought advice and we will adhere to the advice,” said Minister Richards.