Regional Water Leaders Gather in Antigua for Summit

Findings from a 2013 Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) assessment show that electricity costs account for up to 40 percent of the annual operating budgets of some water and wastewater utilities in the Caribbean water sector. 

Yet energy costs are among the most controllable operating expenses for water and wastewater utilities.

Last week in Antigua and Barbuda, on December 2 and 3, 2015, 40 CEOs, investors and experts in the Water Sector gathered at the Second Caribbean Water Leaders Summit to discuss how to tackle energy challenges in regional water and wastewater utilities. They also explored opportunities and techniques for improving energy efficiency and shared lessons learned from their national operations through panel sessions, workshops and practical learning sessions.

Participants in the 2nd Caribbean Water Leaders Summit

40 CEOs, investors and experts in the Water Sector on the opening day of the Second Caribbean Water Leaders Summit held in Antigua and Barbuda, December 2-3, 2015.

CDB and the Global Water Leaders Group co-hosted the event, along with the Antigua Public Utilities Authority, the Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association Inc., and the Global Environment Facility – Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management.

 “Improving energy efficiency is recognized as being central to strategies to reduce water utilities’ operating costs,” said Edward Greene, Division Chief, Technical Cooperation Division. “For many countries in the Caribbean Region, a more energy-efficient water sector could have significant environmental and economic benefits.”

Energy efficiency in the Water Sector could help tackle some of the Caribbean Region’s most pressing water-related challenges by:

  • Addressing scarcity and shortages exacerbated by climate change
  • Lowering energy costs and freeing up dollars for company or government spending elsewhere such as customer service improvements or other sectors
  • Improving water and wastewater facilities’ performance 
  • Addressing public health challenges caused by waterborne illnesses and water treatment issues
  • Reducing air pollution by decreasing water and wastewater utilities’ reliance on fossil fuels for energy

At the event, participants heard from some of the world’s leading water experts, who shared best practices for using energy audits to achieving energy efficiency, and optimising markets for wastewater by-products.

In addition, the water leaders created action plans to tackle issues and seize opportunities in their national water sectors. The plans identified goals and strategies for implementation, and will help guide the Region’s water leaders in creating sustainable water solutions at home.

Creating action plans during the 2nd Caribbean Water Leaders Summit in Antigua and Barbuda

During the Summit, water leaders created action plans to tackle issues and seize opportunities in their national water sectors.

The participants also shared their perspectives and vision for more efficient water sectors in their countries and in the Caribbean Region.

“How do we continue to provide a safe water supply; water that is available for all—not just for today but also for the future? We need to look at waste and wastewater as a resource and look to place water utilities on a sustainable financial framework,” said Chris Corbin, Programme Officer, United Nations Environment Programme, Regional Coordinating Unit.

“We need to look at the issue of energy generation from waste and we are looking at a menu of opportunities for addressing our energy needs. By 2030, we should have a level of access and a quality product, which all Guyanese and all visiting persons who come to Guyana can benefit from,” said Dr. Richard Van West-Charles, Chief Executive Officer of Guyana Water Inc.

“Once there is a reduction in the energy costs, then you will have more funds available to do other things. You will be able to have a better water system to supply customers. You will be able to give more to the community—and also do more for the staff,” Tanisha Shuttleworth, General Manager, Dynamic Environmental Management Limited, a private-sector water utility in Jamaica.

“To improve our financial performance, and provide for reinvestment and development, we are going to have to be more efficient. Energy is a cross-cutting issue for all the islands, for the entire sector and we have to find common strategies to address it,” said Christopher Husbands, General Manager, National Water and Sewerage Authority, Grenada.

The Second Caribbean Water Leaders Summit follows a successful inaugural event in Barbados in 2014, which CDB also supported. The theme for this year’s event was “Leaders Charting New Waters: Water Utility Prosperity through Energy Efficiency.”

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