Tobago Community Water Watch Network
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Tobago Community Water Watch Network

The Tobago Community Water Watch Network is a programme developed by Environment TOBAGO in response to concern about the deteriorating water quality of some of Tobago's coastal waters and the lack of public understanding of the problem. Sewage pollution can pose a health risk to bathers. Our marine waters are one of Tobago's most important natural resources, as a source of food for local consumption and export and as a component of our tourism product.

Funding for the programme has come from the United Nations Development Programme Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme and corporate sponsors such as Carib Glass and Brewery, Lever Brothers and Power Boats Mutual Association.

The Objectives of the Network are:
  • to provide volunteers with a better understanding and appreciation of the natural environment by providing hands-on involvement in an environmental project
  • to gather coastal water samples on a regular basis to determine patterns of pollution problems in the near shore environment
  • to raise the level of public awareness as to the extent and severity of the problem
  • to develop a model Programme that can influence national legislation and enforcement
  • to develop aware and responsive citizens with the motivation and skills necessary to solve local environmental problems and
  • to promote remedial action to eliminate water pollution in Tobago.

The programme is divided into three phases.

Phase I -- Teachers Meeting, Training Workshops, First Field Surveys, Community Outreach, Marine Testing Regime, Terrestrial Field Surveys, Community Reports, Phase I Report

Phase II -- Terrestrial Testing Regime, Community Outreach, Community Reports, Phase II Report (see WaterNet Phase II)

Phase III -- Community Outreach, Remedial Action, Final Report

Phase I was successfully completed in the 1997-1998 school year. Phase II was completed in early 1999..

Feasibility Study

A feasibility study was conducted prior to the initiation of programme activities. The study comprised (a) a technical consultation, (b) a public consultation and (c) a quality assurance test.

(a) Technical Consultation

Purpose: to determine testing parameters and proper methodology. The Consultation was attended by:
    Mr. Kamau Akili: Vice President, Environment TOBAGO; Director, WaterNet
    Mr. Steve Hayton: Manager, Environment TOBAGO; Director, WaterNet
    Mr. Richard Laydoo: National Co-ordinator, United Nations Development Programme, Global Environment Facility, Small Grants Programme
    Dr. David MacIntosh: Deputy Chief Executive, Environmental Management Authority
    Dr. Avril Siung-Chang, Principal Research Officer, Environmental Research Department, Institute of Marine Affairs
    Ms. Donna Smart, Chemist, WASA Regional Laboratory
    Mr. David Shim, Marine Park Manager, THA Marine Affairs Section
    Mrs. Perlene Nelson, Public Health Inspector III, THA Public Health Services

    (b) Public Consultation

    Purpose: to inform and access input from the general public. The consultation was attended by representatives of:

    Harmon School of S. D. A.; Palm Tree Village Hotel; Tobago Services, Ltd.; TIDCO; Tobago Plantations, Ltd.; THA Works Division; Girl Guides Association; Signal Hill Senior Comprehensive School; Town and Country Planning; Crown Point Police Youth Group; Media
      (c) Quality Assurance Test

      Purpose: to demonstrate that the WASA Regional Laboratory in Scarborough has the capacity to accurately analyse water samples for Faecal Coliform Bacteria.

      Three exercises were completed, each comprising duplicate water samples taken from three locations in Tobago and independently analysed at a number of laboratories including the UWI Environmental Lab, the IMA Laboratory, the Public Health Environmental Laboratory, the WASA Central Laboratory as well as the WASA Regional Laboratory. Results were compared and the conclusion was reached that the WASA Regional Laboratory could analyse the project's samples with sufficient accuracy, although results obtained from the WASA Regional Laboratory were consistently and in some instances, dramatically, lower than those from all of the other laboratories.

      All water quality tests in the Phase I survey were conducted between 15 September, 1997 and 29 December, 1997.


      Over two hundred secondary school students (Form 4 and Form 5) participated in Phase I of the programme. They are from Bishop's High School, Signal Hill Senior Comprehensive School, Harmon School of S.D.A., Elizabeth's College and Roxborough Composite School. Many of the students incorporated the WaterNet activities into their school based assessment projects for their CXC examinations. One or two volunteers from the areas surrounding each of the selected bays assisted the students in field activities.


      The programme focused on five bays: Back Bay, Plymouth; Mt. Irvine Bay; Buccoo Bay; Tyrell’s Bay and Man-o-War Bay. Due to difficulties experienced in both community outreach and the logistics of the testing regime, the results of the survey at Tyrell’s Bay were incomplete and are not included in the Phase I report.

      Training Workshops

      The students and the community volunteers participated in Training Workshops where they learned how to take water samples and analyse the samples using testing kits, hydrometers and thermometers (supplied by WaterNet) for phosphate, ammonia/nitrate, salinity and temperature.


      Community Outreach

      The WaterNet Directors met with the Village Councils of the villages associated with the selected bays to inform them of the project and access input and co-operation from the communities.

      Field Surveys

      At each bay, the students conducted field surveys to begin the preparation of maps, study the conditions of the bay, talk to users of the bay and select sample station locations.

      Testing Regime

      At each of 27 sample stations, two water samples were taken once a week for five weeks. One sample was taken in a pre-sterilised bottle, placed in a cooler with ice and delivered to the WASA Laboratory within six hours for faecal coliform (FC) analysis. Another sample was taken to the participating school for analysis with testing kits and hydrometers. Temperature was recorded in the field.

      Terrestrial Survey

      After all testing results were recorded, participants conducted a terrestrial field survey to map drainage systems associated with those sample stations where high levels of pollution were found and to look for potential sources of pollution. All data has been entered into a simple Geographic Information System (GIS).

      Community Reports

      The Directors again met with the Village Councils to present the results of the testing regime, to deliver written reports on the programme’s findings and to gain community input into the future direction of the programme.

      Phase I Report

      The results of the tests were released in the Phase I Report, August of 1998. The report was made available to the public in Tobago's libraries as well as mailed to 100+ agencies, public officials, newspapers, etc.
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