August 1, 2014


437x162_initiatives_leatherbacks_researchTurtles are an importance part of the ecosystem. Many persons may wonder why so much effort to protect sea turtles and why they are important. There are several reasons why we should protect sea turtles from becoming extinct!

One of the oldest groups of animals

Sea turtles have been on the earth, more or less unchanged in form, since before the dinosaurs and are probably one of the oldest groups of animals on earth. In many cultures around the world, sea turtles play a significant cultural and spiritual role.

Important predators

Some sea turtles feed on sea grasses and coral and play an important role in keeping the animals and plants of the reef in check. Without them, some species of seaweed, coral, or sponge might grow too much and cause other species of reef animals or plants to die off.

One of the least aggressive forms of wildlife

Sea turtles provide a unique chance to see a large wild animal up close in its natural habitat, at a very vulnerable time. It is hard to see most animals during their reproductive cycle, yet it is possible to watch turtles from the time their mother lays them as an egg, to the point where they hatch and run onto the beach. It is both an important educational tool and a strong attraction for people all round the world.

Enough is not known about sea turtles

Scientists all around the world are studying aspects of the biology of sea turtles from sight and hearing to metabolism and digestion, given their history of long life, they may hold the key in resolving some of the biodiversity survival issues.

Status of turtles

Turtles don’t only live in the sea but also in freshwater. There are only seven existing saltwater species, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), of which three are classified as Critically Endangered by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and three as Endangered. Of the 263 species of freshwater and terrestrial turtles, 117 species are considered Threatened, 73 are either Endangered or Critically Endangered and one is Extinct.

Why are turtles rapidly disappearing? What are the concerns?

* Habitat loss and degradation

* Wildlife trade

* Collection of eggs and meat for consumption

* Incidental capture

* Climate change

* Pollution


How can we protect the remaining turtles?

* Don’t purchase a turtle or tortoise from a pet shop as it increases demand from the wild.

* Don’t remove turtles or tortoises from the wild unless they are sick or injured.

* Do not purchase turtle meat or eggs. This will discourage illegal hunters.

* Do not remove turtle eggs or consume their meat.

* Learn more about the importance of turtles and what you can do to help.

* Report cruelty, entanglement or illegal sales of turtles or tortoises to the Environmental Protection Agency.


You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown, or email us at:

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Best practices for spray painting operations

banner22In recent years, there has been an emergence of an increasing number of automobile spray painting shops. No doubt, this is associated with the increasing number of vehicles being imported into the country which provide steady business for these shops. Also, locally, the   auto sales business is highly competitive, creating the need for vehicles to be regularly sprayed to enhance their visual appeal to customers.

Though business is a good thing, it is a fact that spray painting poses health and environmental risks if best practices are not followed. An observed trend is that many spray painting shops begin as small operations in residential areas but soon expand to a larger scale thereby magnifying the risks to nearby residents and shop operators alike. These risks are associated with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are released during the spray-painting operation.

Cognisant of the risks associated with spray painting shops, the Environmental Protection Agency developed Environmental Guidelines for these operations to safeguard the health and safety of workers as well as persons who reside in close proximity to such operations. Over the coming weeks we will be focusing on the Spray Painting Guidelines beginning this week with best practices.


Wayne - new custom spray booth 500• Spray painting shops, should be located in a commercial or industrial area and not a residential area and at least 50 metres (164 feet) away from the nearest residence.

• Shops should not be in close proximity to dust producing facilities as dust will greatly affect the coating quality.

Setting up

Spraying must be done in booths or rooms that are constructed with non–flammable materials, such as steel, concrete and brick.

Booth walls must be smooth and without edges to avoid the trapping of residue.

Booth floors and fire doors must be non-flammable since chemicals used in spray painting can explode in the event of a fire.

Booths should be adequately ventilated to keep vapours and paint away from other work areas or have an exhaust vent to remove them.

Booth exhaust vents should be at least two metres above the highest roof in the surrounding area and equipped with an effective filter or water wash system to reduce emissions.

Handling Equipment

Workers should be trained in the proper use of spray-painting materials.

The spray-gun should be held at a right angle to the surface being sprayed.

The distance between the spray gun’s tip and painting surface should be maintained based on the equipment specifications. (This will give the proper coat thickness, and minimise the use of more coats and so help to reduce VOC emissions).

Choose spray equipment that will cause the most paint to be applied to the surface when sprayed, eg, HVLP – High Volume Low Pressure paint gun.

Determine the type of coating that will be sprayed through the equipment and use the paint gun that works best for the application of such coating. Follow the manufacturer suggestions regarding air pressure and tip sizes for the specific product and equipment being used.

Preparing for spraying and topcoats

Wash dirt/grime from the vehicle using water or a soap and water mixture.

Water-based cleaners can be used to remove sanding, sludge, fingerprints, waxes and other contaminants.

Use solvent-based cleaners sparingly; mostly to remove grease, road tar, silicone, and driveline oils.

Choose products that lessen the need for additional surface coating.

Choose prep coats, primers and sealers in colours that can be easily covered with the topcoat.

Apply only the number of coats needed to achieve a quality finish.

Avoid the use of lacquer-based topcoats.

Keep the use of paint additives to a minimum.

When available, use water-based coats.

Use low VOC primer-surfacers, primer-sealers such as Chrome-Free Etch Primer, Epoxy

Primer-Sealers, and top coats products such as low VOC Lacquer Topcoats.

Avoid zinc-phosphate primers with high VOC content.

As much as possible, perform body work using a minimal amount of primer-surfacer.

Next week we will examine other aspects of the Spray Painting Guidelines.

Share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown, or email us at:

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Coastal and marine resources of Small Island Developing States (SIDS)

EPA_1This year, 2014 is designated United Nations Year of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Let’s take a closer look at this topic by examining the vulnerability of the coastal and marine resources of SIDS.

Coastal resources include the coastal waters of a country and all natural resources found there – marine life, wildlife habitats, and adjacent shores. Marine resources, on the other hand, are the physical features and biological species and communities that are found in seas and oceans that are beneficial to man, eg fish, coral reefs and crabs, fungi, etc.

SIDS have small land area, but large coastal areas because they are islands surrounded by the sea. The coastal environment is, therefore, particularly important to SIDS, both for livelihoods and for the country’s revenue. It is typical to have conflict related to the demands for coastal space and its resources.

SIDS are heavily dependent on coastal and marine resources for their livelihood, including food security. They have the responsibility for a significant portion of the world’s oceans, but have limited means to adequately manage their marine resources due to their small size.

It is a reality that many SIDS fishery resources are over-exploited, conflicts arise between competitive marine resource uses (eg fisheries and tourism), and coastal habitats are being degraded. In particular, mangroves and coral reefs are being destroyed, leading to loss of habitat for species and thus, loss of an important food supply and source of income. Outstripping of sand and aggregate materials (used for construction and landfill) is further depleting resources.

EPA_2Degradation of critical marine habitats and resources need to be prevented through the establishment of marine reserves and sound management of resources, possibly through community-based and ecosystem-oriented approaches.

Conflict is often as a result of high and increasing population densities on the coast and by the development of economic sectors such as tourism. For both terrestrial and marine environments, difficulties in planning and implementing effective integrated approaches to resource management are reflected in over-exploitation of particular resources, pollution and degradation of land and water ecosystems, and acute conflicts between competing resource uses.

Sustainable management of marine resources would include the following:

  • monitoring,

  • control,

  • surveillance,

  • compliance and

  • enforcement.

EPA_3Destructive fishing practices; over-fishing; illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and subsidies that contribute to fishing overcapacity continue to degrade marine resources, and undermine food security and sustainable development of SIDS.

The sustainable development of SIDS, including the eradication of poverty, depends on the health and vitality of the marine and coastal environment, the sustainable management and conservation of marine and coastal resources, and the enabling of SIDS to enjoy a greater share of the benefits derived from those resources.

The 2014 international year of SIDS aims to highlight the challenges facing these countries and to galvanise global action to enable these countries to adequately plan for the impact of climate change on their already vulnerable coastal resources.


You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown; or email us at

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Sustainable Land Management and Agriculture

farm.SMALL_Sustainable Land Management (SLM) aims to balance the needs of people, economies, and environment, while minimising the negative impacts associated with each form of land use. More specifically, it is “the use of land resources, including soils, water, animals and plants, for the production of goods to meet changing human needs, while simultaneously ensuring the long-term productive potential of these resources and the maintenance of their environmental functions” (UN Earth Summit, 1992).

Understanding the link

In order to be safe and content, people need access to shelter, healthy food, clean drinking water, and cultural nourishment. These can be provided by a well-functioning local economy that supports local people for the long term through the provision of opportunities to earn adequate income and aid the provision of important services such as schools, hospitals, and trade centres. Of course, the economy depends on the resources of the natural environment, which provides vital ecosystem services – food, air, soils, water, etc. However, these services will only continue to be available if the environment remains in a healthy state, with rich biodiversity and well-functioning ecosystems.

SLM is, therefore, crucial to minimising land degradation, rehabilitating degraded areas, and ensuring the optimal use of land resources.

SLM Benefits

SLM should be of concern to all of us for the following reasons:

Food and fibre – it helps to meet the rising food and fibre demands while sustaining ecosystem services and livelihoods.

Growing population – It is necessary to meet the requirements of a growing population.

Land productivity – It involves preserving and enhancing the productive capabilities of land in cropped and grazed areas.

Sustenance of forests – It aids in sustaining productive forest areas and forest reserves and maintaining the integrity of watersheds for water supply and hydropower generation needs and water conservation zones and the capability of aquifers to serve farm and other productive activities.

The agricultural sector contributes around 30 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Guyana. The vast majority, 95 per cent, of this important sector is based on the coastland because of the favourable climatic conditions and richer soil. In order to make the shift to more sustainable modes of agriculture, it is important to understand current practices threaten the longevity of the sector and the quality and quantity of produce.

Common SLM principles

Land degradation had accelerated during the 20th Century, due to increasing and combined pressures of agricultural and livestock production (over-cultivation, overgrazing, forest conversions); urbanisation; deforestation; and extreme weather events such as droughts and coastal surges. The SLM approach utilises four common principles to address this problem:

Land-user-driven and participatory approaches;

Integrated use of natural resources at ecosystem and farming systems levels;

Multi-level and multi-stakeholder involvement; and

Targeted policy and institutional support, including development of incentive mechanisms for SLM adoption and income generation at the local level.

Collaboration and partnership

The application of SLM requires collaboration and partnership at all levels – land users, technical experts and policymakers – to ensure that the causes of the degradation and corrective measures are properly identified, and that the policy and regulatory environment enables the adoption of the most appropriate management measures.

SLM is considered essential for sustainable development and plays a key role in bringing together the complementary, yet historically conflicting goals of production and environment. Thus one of the most important aspects of SLM is this important union of agriculture and environment through twin objectives of maintaining long-term productivity of the ecosystem functions (land, water, biodiversity) and increasing productivity (quality, quantity and diversity) of goods and services, and particularly safe and healthy food.


You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown, or email us at:

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Litter Prevention Regulations

It is an offence to litter from a moving vehicle

Under the Litter Prevention Regulations, littering from a moving vehicle or a trailer in motion is an offence. Motor vehicles include those used for transportation of people and goods such as cars, buses, speedboats, ferries, etc.

A person who litters or causes litter to fall off or blow off from a motor vehicle or trailer in motion is guilty of an offence. As such, persons who transport goods are advised to:

(a) Secure their materials in such a way to prevent it from falling off the motor vehicle or trailer; and

(b) Cover materials in such a way to prevent them from blowing off the motor vehicle or trailer.

If a person fails to heed this advice and litter falls or blows off the vehicle/trailer, then the person is guilty of an offence.

(a)An individual found guilty of this offence will be fined  $50,000

(b)A company found guilty of this offence will be fined $100,000

Encouragement of offence against littering from a moving vehicle

A person who causes or knowingly permits another person to litter from a moving vehicle shall also be guilty of an offence, and be convicted for the same offence together with the person who committed the act.

Increased penalty for subsequent offence

A person having been convicted of littering from a moving vehicle, and is convicted a second time for the same act,will have to pay double the amount of the maximum fine attached to the offence or face three months imprisonment.

Owners of public transportation are required by law to provide containers for the disposal of litter!

A person who breaks this law shall be guilty of an offence under the Regulations and shall pay a fine of $15,000.



You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia,  or email us at

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Litter Prevention Regulations

It is an offence to place litter in a public place

The Litter Prevention Regulations will soon be enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency. It is an offence under these regulations to (a) place litter in a public place; (b) permit or cause another person to litter a public place or; (c) have litter on private premises that pose a health risk.

It does not matter if littering is intentional or accidental; once the act is committed the person responsible would be charged. As such, if litter comes  from a moving vehicle to a public place, then the person responsible for the moving vehicle would have committed an offence. Similarly, if a person places litter in a public place not intended for garbage collection then this person would have committed an offence.

Additionally, a person who gives permission or causes another person to litter a public place is guilty of an offence. Another point to note is that the absence of a waste receptacle is not an excuse for littering!

 The fine for an individual found littering in a public place is $50,000; for a corporate business it is $100,000

Littering on private

premises is an offence

A person who places litter on premises owned or occupied by another person without consent is guilty of an offence under the Litter Prevention Regulations.

 The fine for this offence is $30,000 or six months’ imprisonment.

 Persons who litter will be ordered to clean it up

If the litter left in an area defaces that area, Litter Wardens appointed by the EPA will give notice to the individual or company responsible for such litter to clean it up and restore the area. Similarly, the owner or person who occupies premises with litter can be ordered to remove it. This may apply particularly to litter such as dead animals, or materials and substances   that pose a public health risk.

The fine for failing to obey the notice to clean up a public or private premises is $20,000 and an additional $5000 for each day of non-compliance. Further, the guilty person will bear the cost of the litter removal if it is done by the Litter Warden.
Repeat offenders will pay double the maximum fine for the offence committed or face three months’ imprisonment.
Notices may be given orally or through writing via mail. Save yourself the embarrassment and cost of littering – dispose of your waste properly!













Share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown; or email us at

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Litter Prevention Regulations empower Litter Wardens

garbage-1In January this year, the Litter Prevention Regulations became enforceable and will be enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  These Regulations allow the EPA to appoint Litter Wardens with the authority to apprehend persons who commit litter offences.

The EPA will recruit suitable persons to function as Litter Wardens. These persons will be required to undergo a period of training, which will adequately equip them for the job. Focus will be given to providing a good understanding of the Regulations, and the responsibilities of Litter Wardens. Further, Litter Wardens will be provided with identification cards, which would be presented as proof of their authority.

Authority to enter premises

Litter Wardens, upon presenting identification to the inhabitant(s) of any premises with litter that poses a public health risk, have the authority to enter the premises to remove this litter. The person(s) responsible for the litter will be required to pay for the cost of its removal. Examples of litter that pose health risks include dead animals, animal offal, etc.

On entering a premise with litter that poses a public health risk, a Litter Warden may take along a person(s) as necessary to remove the litter. Any person who obstructs the Litter Warden from carrying out this litter removal is guilty of an offence with a penalty of $20,000.

Authority to give notice for the removal of derelict vehicles

Litter Wardens have the authority to request persons responsible for a derelict vehicle found in a public place remove it. These persons must also restore the place to a satisfactory condition.  Removal of the vehicle and restoration of the public place must be done within two days of being given notice. It should be noted that notice can be given orally or in writing.

Any person, who fails to obey a notice given by the Litter Warden to remove a derelict vehicle, is guilty of an offence which carries a fine of $30,000. An additional $5000 will be added to the fine for each day that the vehicle is left in the public area. Further, the Litter Warden can have the derelict vehicle removed, and the defaulter will be required to pay for its removal.

Authority to give notice for the removal of litter

Litter Wardens also have the authority to give notice to persons who litter a public place to remove such litter, and restore the area to its former state within three days of being given notice. Failure to obey the notice is an offence which carries a fine of 20,000, and an additional $5000 for each day that the litter is left in the public area.

Look out next week for more on the Litter Enforcement Regulations. For a closer look at the Regulations, visit

Share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/o EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown; or email us at

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SIDS and their vulnerability to natural disasters

EPA1Last week’s article introduced the common characteristics and challenges of Small Island Developing States (SIDS). In this week’s article, we take a more in-depth look at a major vulnerability facing SIDS – natural disasters.

Natural disasters

A natural disaster is any event or force of nature that has catastrophic consequences, for example: floods, earthquakes, storms, landslides, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions. Natural disasters are the combination of hazards (floods, landslides, tsunamis); conditions of vulnerability; and insufficient capacity or measures to reduce the potentially negative consequences of risk.

EPA2SIDS are very prone to natural disasters and even though many successful initiatives have been carried out over the years, other threats continue to emerge.

As was mentioned in last week’s article, SIDS have particular characteristics that render them susceptible to natural disasters. These are largely:

* Small size of country;

* Concentrated economic and administrative activities along coastlines;

* Remoteness; and

EPA3* Frail environments.

Natural disasters have major effects on SIDS such as:

* Devastation of the agricultural sector;

*  The wiping out of entire village settlements;

*  The disruption of a high proportion of communication services;

* Injury or death of a relatively high percentage of inhabitants; and

* Significant damage to existing fragile and vulnerable economies.

It has been recognised that many disasters could have been greatly mitigated with adequate planning and preparation, since this cost would have been smaller compared to the cost of relief and recovery efforts. However, to achieve the degree of planning and preparation it is necessary to make changes in the objectives and approaches to disaster management in SIDS. Some of the changes advocated include:

* Need for a shift in emphasis from relief and emergency response to preventive measures

* Increased preparedness

* Education of potentially affected populations

* The strengthening of infrastructure

* The design and setting up of  reliable early warning systems

* Broadcasting of mitigation measures

* Proper information education and public awareness

Sources: with photos from Google images

You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown; or email us at

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Let’s go green this Christmas!

Amid all the festivity, shopping, hustling and bustling, redecorating and cleaning, let us give a thought to our environment which is very special and important to our health and wealth. Let us be charitable, not only to our friends and families, but also to the environment!

There are many things that we can do to prepare for a ***green*** or eco-friendly holiday season that reduces our negative impacts on our beautiful environment and health.

One easily doable thing is to keep in mind the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and use them in our holiday preparations. This would go a long way towards improving the aesthetics of the environment, conserving our resources and keep our economy strong.

Eco-friendly and nature inspired décor will bring a natural and unique touch to your home, that is true to the festive nature of the season. So let us make a difference in our lives and our country this holiday by trying simple preparation tips for a holiday with less waste and better use of materials around us. Here are some to start you off:


* Look for the ozone friendly label on products before you buy.

* Make use of natural cleaning agents such as vinegar and baking soda.

* Keep materials that are recyclable and in good condition as you will see the need for it in the future.

Decorating the house

* Use natural or recycled materials to make decorations.

* Wrap old jars with coloured paper and place candles inside.

* Use low energy (LED) fairy lights.

* Cut down on energy use – use candles for Christmas dinner.

*  Reuse old Christmas cards for gift tags, decorations etc.

* Put sweets or other goodies in old jars and set them on the table or give as gifts.

* Make Christmas decorations – bring out the glue guns, old papers, paints, old décor and old clothing to create crafty projects this season.


* Buy recyclable or reusable products for the home and as gifts.

* Buy goods in bulk – you will save more money and time.

* Instead of buying new clothing for the holiday, make your own or you reuse your old clothing and mix them in different ways.

* Do not impulse shop – you will save more (you will  need that money next year).

Gift preparation

* Make Christmas cards (be creative).

* Make gifts, example: flower baskets or fruit baskets.

* Reuse wrapping paper.


Best wishes for the holiday season from the Environmental Protection Agency!

You can share your ideas and questions by sending your letters to: “The Earth Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division. Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown or email us at

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Water conservation this Christmas

The festive end-of year season is here again. House-cleaning is well on its way, decorations are out, and the usual hustle and bustle of the season is quite evident. It is also a time that provides you  with a great opportunity to be mindful of your actions and how they can affect our health, pocket and the environment.

As the end of 2013, the ‘International Year of Water Cooperation’ draws near; it is a good time to reflect on how invaluable water is to our health and prosperity. It is necessary for  everyone to work together to ensure that this precious resource is conserved and protected, because how we treat it  could very well affect quality of life in 2014 and beyond.  Here are some tips to help you  do your part:

While you’re eating:

* Avoid food waste: Food waste tends to increase in the holiday season.  This impacts our water resources indirectly – all the water and resources put into the growing, manufacturing, and selling of our food goes to waste if the food ends up in the bin.

* Plan your meals properly and thaw meats naturally, well in advance, instead of placing them in water to thaw.

* Create a compost pile with certain food scraps instead of using a garbage disposal.

* Consider rinsing over a tub when washing vegetables and fruits for dinner; you can reuse the water for your holiday plants.

* Use more homemade juices. This takes less water to make; take what you need and avoid wastage.

* Eat more vegetables and less meat. Did you know that it takes approximately 50,000 litres of water to provide you with one pound of beef?

* Don’t run the tap when washing dishes.  Plugging the drain, filling the sink with soapy water, and scrubbing and rinsing from there can reduce how much water you use cleaning all those holiday pots, pans, and dishes.

While you’re cleaning/washing:

* Use damp newspapers instead of water to clean your window, they give a much better shine and uses far less water.

* Soak your flowers down for a while and then fill up a tub or large container and rinse them. It’s much more effective than washing directly under the pipe.

* Save water (and make that pile of laundry disappear a little faster) by only washing full loads every time, and using the appropriate setting on your machine to the size of the load you’re washing.

* Sun-dry your laundry as far as possible instead of drying in the washing machine.

While you’re shopping:

* Take your own reusable bottle with water when you go shopping and avoid buying small bottles of water which will also increase the amount of waste you produce.

* It might seem outlandish, but water-efficient appliances can make great gifts! Reusable water bottles, low-flow showerheads and even a rain barrel could also be a great gift to help your loved ones conserve water.

* Consider dry flower or fruit arrangements instead of filling large vases with water for fresh flowers.

* Use reusable wrappings for gifts such as a tea towel, table cloth, or scarf – this saves energy and waste products as well as water, and is a practical part of the gift as well.

At this period of the year, many persons take the opportunity to do renovations, repairs or even upgrade items within their home. Ensure water conservation and protection is on your to-do list. Repair or replace all leaking pipes, invest in low-flow shower heads and toilets and a buoy for your outdoor storage tank. Remember, less than one per cent of the water on earth is fresh, so it’s not as abundant as you might think!

You can share your ideas and questions by sending letters to: “Our Earth, Our Environment”, C/O EIT Division, Environmental Protection Agency, Ganges Street, Sophia, Georgetown; or email us at

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