World Water Day seems like a fitting celebration for Jamaica, an island nation whose name literally means “Land of Wood and Water”.
Climate change is threatening Jamaica’s natural environment in a number of ways, and water is at the centre of many of the risks and impacts that face the country:
- The dry season is getting longer: less annual rainfall means less water for communities supplied by single spring or river sources.
- Very intense periods of rains: heavy rains increase the dirt and debris in watershed areas, requiring additional effort and expense to treat for daily use. These intense rainfalls occur less frequently, so more water runs off the surface and less is available to replenish groundwater sources.
- Rainfall is decreasing while temperatures increase: over time, decreased rainfall and increased temperatures limit the replenishment of underground water sources.
- More intense hurricanes: hurricanes pose an increasing threat to infrastructure and revenue, both after the event and during the recovery period.
- Sea level rise: sea level rise poses a threat to coastal aquifers, as many of Jamaica’s wells are located near the coast. Saline (salt water) intrusion into coastal aquifers results in compromised water quality.