CHRISTIANSTED — Traditional water usage patterns imply 90 percent of households in the USVI collect and store water in cisterns.
Unfortunately, there is little available information on the quality of this water.
There is no evidence-based guidance available for the use and/or management of household cistern water.
Recent surveys suggest the following about the use of cistern water: less than 17 percent of households reported drinking untreated cistern water, 15 percent of the people surveyed reported having diarrhea in the past two to four weeks, and less than 10 percent of households have multi-stage water treatment.
The V.I. Department of Health, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are working with local citizens to develop guidance for USVI residents on cistern use and management.
As part of the anticipated accomplishments from this work the VIDOH is will attempting to answer the following questions; 1) what is the chance a cistern is contaminated with germs?, 2) what are things households can do to reduce the chance their cistern will become contaminated with germs?, and 3) what are options households have for producing or accessing clean water?
In February, the VIDOH and CDC conducted a preliminary data collection campaign of 25 households across St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John in preparation for a large data collection campaign this summer. While only a small campaign, the data suggested the majority of households had germ contamination in their cistern.
In July and August 2019 the VIDOH and CDC plan to conduct a larger data collection campaign of 400 to 500 households across St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John.
The campaign seeks to answer the three questions listed above and provide USVI residents with better information on how to have safe household water.
There will be two Disaster Preparedness Expos in June on emergency preparedness.
The first will be on June 22nd in St. Croix and the second will be on June 29th in St. Thomas.
“This will be a great chance to come out and make sure you are prepared for emergencies, not only about water, but all household preparation,” the V.I. Department of Health said.