Published On: Fri, Nov 25th, 2016

Suriname develops novel means to export water to fight Caribbean drought

drinking-waterPARAMARIBO - This week, a boat will tow a giant bag made from PVC-coated fabric with enough water to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool from Suriname to drought-stricken Barbados and Curacao.

It will be a test run for a technology Auke Piek, a 44-year-old Dutch engineer, said he wants to expand to other Caribbean islands, which are experiencing the worst drought in half a century, Bloomberg reported.

The Barbados Water Authority, which signed a memorandum of understanding for the test run but is not buying the initial shipment, said in a statement that the accord is part of its long-term plans to tackle the impact of global warming. The trip to Barbados was expected to take five or six days.

Piek’s company, Amazone Resources, has received the rights from Suriname’s government to pump water from the mouths of the Coppename and Suriname rivers, both of which meet World Health Organization standards, the company said.

If the test run is successful, the company will order bigger bags, costing more than $500,000 each and capable of holding 16 times more water. The bags, which can be tethered together and pulled behind a boat, float near the ocean’s surface due to the difference in density between fresh and salt water.

“Drought is hitting these countries more and more. In Barbados, some people only have water for a few hours a day,” said John Goedschalk, executive director of environmental group Conservation International’s Suriname office. “Is this the solution? I think we’d be a fool not to at least try it.”

Although he declined to provide pricing and costs, Piek said it is cheaper than the desalination and water treatments plants that governments in the Caribbean are considering building.

The Suriname government, which is trying to diversify a $4.9 billion economy that is forecast to contract this year, according to the International Monetary Fund, would earn royalties off the water sales.

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