Give Now
Skip to main content

"Haiti receives a sufficient volume of water each year to support its growing population; however, the precipitation that falls on Haiti is not evenly distributed geographically or temporally. 

"Haiti has two distinct rainy seasons, in May/June and in September/October. Total precipitation also varies considerably by region with wet and dry seasons more pronounced in some regions than others—for example, in the northwest corner of Haiti near Môle St. Nicholas, the amount and timing of rainfall are significantly different than in Mirebalais, north of Port au Prince. Observed differences are likely due to a combination of orographic effects and a prevailing wind direction from the east. Regional precipitation differences have important implications for selecting appropriate water sources and safe-water interventions in different regions of Haiti.

"Extensive deforestation and soil loss has resulted in decreased infiltration and aquifer recharge. The causes of deforestation are primarily land clearing for agriculture, charcoal production, and urbanization. Decreased natural filtration of surface runoff combined with inadequate sanitation infrastructure, shallow karst aquifers, and dysfunctional macro- and micro-biotic ecosystems, result in widespread contamination of surface-water and groundwater resources with human pathogens. Karst solution of limestone, and abundant fracturing due to brittle deformation, exacerbate this problem by providing pathways, open conduits, storage locations, and rapid transport for bacteria-laden water and organic debris. Biofilms may also be present in underground cavities which allow bacteria and other pathogens to survive in the subsurface and reemerge when groundwater flow increases during the rainy seasons.

"Infrastructure in Haiti is very poor and struggles to support healthy citizens, business development, freedom of movement, and education. Many rural Haitian households and villages do not have running water, power or sanitation. Water resource interventions such as wells, rain water cisterns, spring capping, and reservoirs, are routinely installed by NGOs and local communities; however, maintenance and support for these interventions is often lacking, resulting in failure. Water treatment and storage is also problematic as most methods employed such as chlorination tablets, biosand filters, fiber membrane filters, and other methods, require regular support to remain sustainable.

"Data for this report were compiled from field measurements collected by research teams, government and NGO, and government sources. Water samples from hand-dug wells in rural Haiti were analyzed using the Colilert method and IDEXX quanti-trays to determine total coliform and Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacterial contamination.

"Since 2015, the Direction Nationale de l’Eau Potable et de l’Assainissement (DINEPA) and regional teams of workers (Office Régional d’Eau Potable et d’Assainissement (OREPA)) have collected data from water points in an effort to create a comprehensive database. Data format, quality, and availability vary considerably between departments and teams collecting data. Water point inventories were performed by the NGOs Haiti Outreach and World Vision in partnership with OREPA Ouest, OREPA Nord, and OREPA Centre. The water point inventories were performed to facilitate department-level action planning for water and sanitation access. Water quality parameters such as pH, electrical conductivity, and temperature were recorded in the field with an Oakton PCSTestr 35 multi-parameter probe. Flow was measured using various methods including bucket/stopwatch, area/velocity method for concentrated flows, and in some cases were estimated when direct measurement was not feasible. Aquagenx CBT II EC test kits were used for bacterial analysis on many of the water points; however, some unprotected springs that were not currently used as principal water sources were not analyzed for bacteria.

"Data on water sources in Haiti are difficult to obtain. Data collection and analysis methods vary from location to location, making systematic quantitative analysis of water contamination more challenging. Department data, along with original data collected from hand-dug wells and other water sources in rural Haiti provide a partial and imperfect account of groundwater contamination in Haiti.

"Since 2011, water samples from a range of different water sources have been collected and analyzed for E. coli in the Artibonite Department near Verrettes, Haiti. Water sources sampled include rivers, undeveloped springs, developed springs, hand-dug wells, shallow hand-pump wells, deep wells, water reservoirs, and water treatment systems. The top three most contaminated water sources are rivers, hand-dug wells, and uncapped or unprotected springs. Twenty hand-dug wells were sampled for bacteria in 2016, with only two of these wells having acceptable E. coli levels for drinking water based on World Health Organization Standards (WHO) drinking water standards. The geometric mean of all the wells was 218.8 most probable number (MPN)/100 ml, which is greater than the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) acceptable body contact standard of 126 cfu/100 ml.

"Aquifer and spring mapping indicate that many rural springs in mountainous areas emerge from alluvial aquifers, carbonate rocks, karst conduits, and cavities. Approximately 75.9% of all mapped springs emerge from alluvial and carbonate aquifers.

"Teams from three departments, Ouest, Centre, and Nord, collected and compiled data from 15,581 water points. Water sources sampled included borehole or tube wells, piped water sources, protected dug wells, protected springs, rainwater, unprotected dug wells, and unprotected springs. Average conductivity is within a typical range for groundwater with the exception of the Ouest Department, where elevated conductivity may be due to saltwater intrusion into shallow alluvial aquifers. Average groundwater temperature is rather high (Avg. 26.8 °C), which may contribute to pathogen survival in shallow groundwater systems.

"Based on these data, 75% of the water sources in the Centre, 55% in the Nord, and 12% in the Ouest departments are considered unsafe or high risk. Mapping of WHO risk for 4,706 water points in the Centre Department revealed clusters of high-risk water points. This is consistent with clusters of higher population density and inadequate sanitation.
Source | Springer Link Hydrogeology Journal Article  (March 26, 2022). Illustrations, links, and reference citations included.