Thursday, August 22, 2002

Living on an island means living in a closed system. For example, all the fresh water that is used on Bowen is water that the clouds drop upon us. A huge amount of that water makes its way quickly into the sea through creeks that spill it off the mountains almost as fast as it falls. There are five lakes on the Island which store water, but other than that most folks don't make an effort to collect what falls on us for seven months of the year.

It's a big issue of course, because being surrounded by salt chuck means we only have a limited supply of fresh water. Limited in the sense that we can only use what falls here. By international standards, we are literally drowning in it.

As the Island becomes more developed, and there are no flat places to put more reservoirs, and conservation seems a last resort for most of us, the issue of water becomes a tricky one. On the Bowen Island forum, fresh water use has lately been discussed along with a variety of alternatives, such as desalination, a process not without it's own costs, both financial and environmental.

Recently, people have made the comparison between Bowen and Bermuda. Bermuda is about twice the size of our island, but supports 60,000 people. It has limited groundwater, tapped by special shallow wells that draw it off the brackish water that dwells beneath it. Water is collected on roof tops and stored in cisterns and if you run out of fresh water, you have to pay for it dearly.

There is very little water collection on Bowen although some folks are good at it. We may be a long way from running out of water here, but we have to start looking at alternatives that reap the bounty that cascades from the skies every year.

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