The Prime Minister, quite rightly, has spoken: Our rivers must be protected, cared for, cleaned, and allowed to flow freely. In all likelihood, rivers have no feelings, and don’t really care what we do to them, or how badly we treat them. So let’s take care of them for our own sakes.
Imagine a container or a box that measures 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 foot; in other words a cubic foot. If you fill this box with water it will weight 62.4 pounds. One cubic foot weighs just over 62 pounds.
Now, imagine a river or a stream that is 5 feet wide, but only 1 foot deep. If we put 5 boxes side by side, they will cross the river, but they will only cover one foot of the length of the river.
Let’s say our river is 1 mile long. A mile is the same as 1760 yards, or 5,280 feet.
If a mile is 5,280 feet long, we would need 5,280 rows of 5 boxes to cover it, which means that if we could collect all the water in our river at any given time, we would need 5 x 5280 boxes, which is 26,400 boxes.
If we want to find out how much all this water weighs, we would have to multiply the weight of the water in one box by 26,400, which we can do. One box of water weighs 62.4 pounds, so 26,400 will weigh 1,647,360 pounds.
An American ton weighs 2,000 pounds. So if we divide 1,647,360 pounds by 2,000, we will know how many tons of water there are in our tiny one-mile long, five feet wide, one-foot deep river. The answer is 823.68 tons.
Now, if we block our little river and stop 823.68 tons of water from flowing freely, depending on how quickly the water is flowing, we will soon have 10 thousand tons, 20 thousand tons, and maybe 100 thousand tons of water waiting to crash down on us as soon as the blockage is removed or washed away.
And this is just in our tiny, one-mile long, five feet wide, one-foot deep imaginary river.
I would guess that the Piaye River and its tributaries are, together, at least 9 miles long and much wider than five feet and much deeper than one foot when rain falls heavily. When rivers swell with rain, they can easily contain several thousand tons of water, and if that water cannot flow freely, then there will soon be thousands and thousands of tons of water waiting to crash down on our heads and houses.
Every time we throw garbage into a stream, every time we dispose of trash, sewerage, agricultural waste, plastic bottles, anything into our rivers, there is a chance that we will be contributing to a disaster, a death, or even worse.
Saint Lucia, for our own sakes, we have to learn to take care of our rivers. This is not an option. It’s a necessity. As rain patterns change with changes in the earth’s climate, unseasonal storms will become more common.