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Defeating Drought

Holiday Villas - Canefield DSC_8420

Holiday Villas – Canefield

BVI HomeSense

Photography by Renata Macrelli

Long hot sunny days are guaranteed here in the BVI and one of life’s great pleasures is to spend time relaxing at home enjoying the views and the sunshine; however, this summer has been challenging for property owners as there has been very little rain. On July 9, 2015, the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) shared some statistics for the period January to June 2015 which showed that only 3.5 inches of rain had fallen, with most of that falling before March.

By way of comparison, during the same period in 2014, rainfall totalled just under 14 inches. As a result, the BVI has been on drought watch for a number of months, but extended periods without rain are not uncommon here. Therefore, if you are currently designing or building a house or are simply low on water, these tips will help.

Residential Sales - Rawleigh Hill House RHH064

Residential Sales – Rawleigh Hill House

Landscaping:  Although there is currently an abundance of flamboyant trees in full bloom with their deep orange flowers lighting up the hillsides, there are many plant species that are suffering from the lack of water. Easy tips for protecting your residential gardens include:

  • Acquire plant species that can flourish in dry conditions wherever possible. These include Oleander, Bougainvillea, Ixoras, Euphorbia and the Succulent family
  • Use soil moist products which absorb lots of water and position them around the roots of your plants. They will release moisture slowly helping your plants with an ongoing water supply
  • Use mulch around the plants. This helps to keep your gardens attractive but will also slow down the evaporation process
  • Build a berm around your plants to maximise the amount of water they can absorb; they are hugely practical
  • Keep your plants pest free. They will need all their energy to keep hydrated so ensure they are in the best condition

Pools: Swimming pools can lose about a quarter of an inch of water a day through evaporation; more depending on the wind and sunlight intensity. That is over an inch and half each week which demands regular pool top ups.

  • Consider a cover for your pool. An initial investment will definitely offset ongoing management challenges during the long summer months
  • If not covered, keep an eye on the water level in your pool and expect to top it up twice a week – this can be challenging when your main water supply is limited
  • In the height of summer, switch the filtration from the skimmer to the main drain and the jets instead. If the water level does go lower than the skimmer, your pump will not be affected and the pool will continue to have the water circulated. If you are away or cannot top up the pool, this will give assurance that the pool will remain fully operational
  • Sometimes in the middle of summer, the level of loss through evaporation can accelerate to such a degree that you might start to wonder if you have a leak. An easy test is to fill a bucket and leave it by the poolside so you can gage exactly how much you are losing due to evaporation each day
Residential Sales - The Stone House -254

Residential Sales – The Stone House

Cisterns:  It is easy to take water supply for granted until you don’t have any. Understanding how much water on average you are using is important and this varies from household to household. It is possible for a couple to go through 3,000 gallons in 10 days whilst a family of five can make 2000 gallons last six weeks. Know your usage so you can manage supply.

  • Keep a track of how much water is in your cistern. Have a wall chart near the cistern lid so you can record the measurements you take and know how much you have
  • Ensure you are aware what the capacity of the cistern is so you can calculate how many gallons you have left when you take the measurements
  • If you don’t have town water supplied, make sure your driveway can accommodate a water truck so water can be delivered if needed
  • If you are building a property, ensure you factor in enough cistern space for grey water collection; water that can be used for the garden, power washing etc. This is water that will drain from decks and patios
  • If you have multiple cisterns, try and keep one exclusively for rain water capture so you can have this pure source without mixing it with town water when supplies are low
  • If you do have town supply, make sure your cistern is filling up on a regular basis – don’t wait until you are running on empty
  • Double check that you don’t have leaking taps or WC’s. This is a common problem that can consume significant amounts of water so it is wise having a plumber give everything the once over
Residential Sales - VillaTaino-180

Residential Sales – Villa Taino

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Keep hydrated and enjoy these long sunny days – and if all else fails it is worth remembering that in the BVI, rum can sometimes be cheaper than water.

Lucienne Smith

Lucienne Smith

Lucienne grew up in the BVI and worked for a number of years as a director for a FTSE 250 company in London. She now heads up the Residential Property Management and Long Term Rental divisions of Smiths Gore.

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