Collaborative Study Of Bermuda’s Tank Water

February 20, 2018

Human health risks associated with drinking local tank water could be significantly reduced through increased public awareness of tank water as raw water and the adoption of appropriate disinfection procedures.

According to the Government, that was one of the key findings of a new collaborative study examining the challenges facing Bermuda’s water management infrastructure, and identifying current and future threats to this “cornerstone of the Island’s cultural heritage”.

A Bermuda College 2017 Corange Science public lecture on water management led to the new study, which took just three months to produce several key findings.

Spearheaded by Koom Consulting [a private water engineering and project management consultancy founded by Bermudian Tarik Smith, and based in Spain], the study was produced in conjunction with the Department of Health, the Bermuda College Science faculty and students in the Division of Arts and Sciences, Greenrock [local environmental group] and Middleway Media [Kristin Alexander of Middleway is the creator of the Bermuda documentary "Trusting Rain”, an independent environmental research and documentary film].

Such was the interest in the lecture that a new course called Drinking Water Quality Control will be offered through the Bermuda College in June and October 2018. The study noted that community education should play a vital role in creating awareness and empowering residents to manage their tank water supplies more effectively.

Another key finding is that there are striking differences in education and awareness concerning rainwater harvesting, not only between residents, foreign workers and tourists, but also from an intergenerational perspective. In addition, the study found that, to our detriment, water has become less of a social and environmental concern and more of an economic commodity.

The consortium was launched after Tarik Smith’s public forum presentation on sustainable water management generated keen interest and follow-up from attendees. Of particular interest are the direct applicability of the subject to the current situation of water management in Bermuda and the links between the local water supply and residents’ health and well-being.

Cited, too, were the “significant percentage” of Bermuda’s residents that were “either totally oblivious to the rainwater harvesting model” or took it for granted. The absence of signage in local hotels and lack of educational materials promoting water conservation was noted. These were contributing factors, it was found, to the loss of the “cultural heritage” of water conservation.

David Kendell, Director of the Department of Health said, “The collection of water is central to virtually every residence in Bermuda, and the importance of regular tank maintenance and the conservation of uncontaminated water is vital to public health. This study has highlighted the need to educate younger people who perhaps are not as aware of the responsibilities involved in optimizing our unique water collection systems.”

Tarik Smith of Koom Consulting added, “There appears to be a significant imbalance between the wealth of information available on good water management practices in Bermuda, and the percentage of the local population that is aware of and apply such practices. Through a collective effort of research, capacity-building and outreach, sustainable water management could once again become an integral part of our culture.

Dean of the Division of Arts and Science at Bermuda College, Ms. Tammy Richardson said she was gratified that the College could bring the issue to the public arena. “As Bermuda is unique in its collection of water, the Division of Arts and Science saw the opportunity for our students and the community to have someone with Mr. Smith’s expertise as our guest for Corange Science [2017].

“This project is a direct result of the feedback received from many sectors following the public forum. I am excited that, under Mr. Smith’s leadership, productive work has continued and expanded beyond Corange Science Week.”

The study also recognised that further research or development was needed in a number of broad areas, including: gauging public awareness and the understanding of the concept of tank water as “raw” water; the potential effects of microbial contamination and/or sediment on the quality of water; sustainable methods of water quality control assurance; the status of “water catchment hills” in Bermuda; and climate change and the potential effects on long-term efficiency of rainwater harvesting.

The study concluded that only a holistic and long-term strategic approach to water resource management would secure the sustainability and resilience of Bermuda’s “intangible cultural heritage”.

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Comments (19)

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  1. Me says:

    A lot of us are subjected to our landlords tardy upkeep of water tanks and the failure of government to conduct checks and tests ,we need to be able to test our tank water , I know of folks who’s tanks have not been cleaned in over 10years

    • Kathy says:

      You can test it yourself, if you are that concerned. If you live in a place where the landlord is not proactive in keeping your tank clean, it is time to move on!

  2. Just a suggestion says:

    This is a great news. I agree with “Me” 100%. A lot of people are subject to untidy landlords. However testing is available through Gov Health Dept at Hermitage Road. $32 per test. Little more for in depth chemical analysis. ( Hope this helps)
    Government legislation states roofs must be maintained and also tanks too. This is not policed enough.
    As ridiculous as it may sound, there is a huge number of people receiving kidney dialysis here on island. Not all have diabetes. There is 1 single contributing factor. Not race or color, not age or underlying medical issues….

    All drink tank water.

    This educational opportunity fronted with Koom Consulting is a step in the right direction. Well done Tarik.
    Thank You

    • Clint says:

      It’s a reality that many people (foreigners and locals) here have no idea that the filthy tanks they depend on everyday may be making them sick.

      I can see some civil lawsuits might serve to wake up the landlords that are not doing their part to maintain tanks for their tenants. The same tenants that help pay their mortgage and fund their vacations.

    • Kathy says:

      I think kidney dialysis here on the island is not related to our drinking water but rather our drinking problem!

    • Real Deal says:

      so its not abuse of alcohol?

    • George says:

      “As ridiculous as it may sound, there is a huge number of people receiving kidney dialysis here on island. Not all have diabetes. There is 1 single contributing factor. Not race or color, not age or underlying medical issues…. All drink tank water.”

      What data is your ‘contributing factor’conclusion based on?

      • Just a suggestion says:

        The data collected by 3 kidney specialist from UK and US in Feb 2015 until what date, I’m not 100% sure. If you believe alcohol is the problem as Kathy (comment below) would suggest then we are doomed. I know of many youngsters receiving treatment right now on island. Check it out. The study was released early 2017. I will try research and find you a link. Pretty sure Bermuda college will have it on file somewhere. But sorry Kathy your comment is just nonsense. Never drank in my life. So what does that make me? A raging water-aholic. I find your ignorance insulting.

        • George says:

          Please do provide the report Just a Suggestion. If there is a bonafide peer reviewed study that shows that our drinking water is the “1 single contributing factor” for the need for kidney dialysis in Bermuda as you claim then the public should know about it. Why wasn’t this research referenced in the article and Tarik Smith/Bermuda College/Department of Health Collaborative Study?

    • Jus' Wonderin' says:

      Don’t think you’re spot on but now if we talk bout cancer rates, tank problems, especially around the Belco stacks then we can talk…

  3. JohnBoy says:

    If one were to just look inside a water tank I think that would stop you from drinking it without at least boiling it.

  4. Real Deal says:

    There are people around the world that drink mud for water.

  5. campervan says:

    Related to this. The diesel fumes that are coming out of some of the buses and trucks on the Island is horrendous. Is there no testing? They are proved to be a major cancer cause. If we are not sucking them down on the road, it is settling on our roofs. What is the plan?

  6. Richard Powell says:

    One thing that needs to be looked at is the Burning of Casuarina wood.the Casuarina is a pine tree, and when burnt, particularly green it produces Creosote. The Creasote goes up the chimney in the smoke and then lands on your roof, and depending on the wind, also on the neighbors roof. Then guess what ? when it rains, where does the Creasote go ? into the tank. draw your own conclusions

  7. Raymond O says:

    you are drinking stagnant water.Fish die in stagnant waters,why should we be different/aerate the water in tanks,all kinds of things fall into our tanks from just the naturals to the man made.

  8. Triangle Drifter says:

    How did we all manage to survive to 2018? It was not that long ago that bottled water was unheard of. Pay for water in a bottle!!!! Are you nuts? We all drank tank water flavoured with whatever the birds sitting on our roofs left behind & maybe from frogs & goldfish in the tank too. Seems like people did not get sick from the water back then.

  9. some beach u says:

    While your at it study why we have asbestos roofs in Hamilton.

  10. some beach u says:

    The drinking qualities of that water must be pretty darn poor , imagine …having to have tank floor sediment professionally abated …before you cement wash.

  11. Puma says:

    Untidy huh?!