Environmental protection needed now!

| 14/05/2009

The current structure of environmental protection in the Cayman Islands is piecemeal and not adequate to meet the needs of this rapidly developing country. Environmental degradation does not respect the artificial boundaries set up by various agencies.

Consolidating the various enforcement responsibilities under one umbrella will maximize limited resources and approach environmental protection in a comprehensive manner which is necessary for such a small piece of real estate such as Cayman.

At present, environmental protection is currently split between several agencies having multiple and sometimes conflicting missions. The regulation of waste management comes under those who provide the service: Environmental Health and the Water Authority. This is like the fox guarding the henhouse. Government makes much of the discharge of nutrients from a dolphin enclosure located in the North Sound, but is silent on nutrient discharges from their own facilities located on the North Sound. When asked by the press whether there might be a link between the well-fertilized green mat of algae growing along the shore and into to the North Sound, the possibility of there being a link between the activity at the nearby dump or wastewater plant, it was downplayed without the benefit of any monitoring reports to substantiate the claims.

The Planning Department has a critical role to play in ensuring sustainable development yet they have been operating without an updated Development Plan for more than ten years. The number of illegal, substandard dwellings without proper sanitation continues to increase, encouraged by the senseless provision that illegal structures are deemed legitimate after sevenyears if the Planning Department has failed to take notice within that period. The Water Authority continues to approve septic tanks discharging directly to a deep well, contrary to their own regulations set out twenty five years ago. Cayman’s flat topography prevents a blanket of smog from forming, but soot-stained buildings provide evidence of its presence. A recent article in the press regarding air quality issues related to CUC’s fuel made it clear that this issue is also being overlooked by regulators.

In addition to the fragmentation of environmental regulation, lax enforcement is also due in part to the cumbersome process written into the existing Laws and Regulations which can discourage timely enforcement actions to resolve issues before they have gone too far.

I propose the establishment of an “Environmental Protection Agency" which would be tasked with public education, enforcement, and publishing annual reports on established measures of environmental quality to track progress to evaluate and direct programs. The first step program would be a nation-wide assessment to evaluate the current situation and identify polluters. Environmental enforcement officers would work in the districts, on the ground, to educate the public regarding regulations and monitor compliance with such. Enforcement would start with a warning followed by citation with the option of paying a fine and/or prosecution. This approach would increase public awareness and support and address violations at an early stage before irreversible damage was done.

In addition, I propose working with the private sector for solutions to remove the existing garbage dump and develop a sustainable solid waste management program tailored to our community which would put into place policies following the priorities of reduction, reuse and recycling of wastes. There would be an immediate focus on diverting "wastes" that can be recycled and reused on the Island: landscape waste, tires, glass, and construction debris. There is no acceptable excuse for not implementing these most basic measures while talking about the problem for the past ten years. Solutions, using affordable technologies suited to a small island nation would be employed to bring reality closer to the hype about our pristine environment.

A healthy environment is necessary to sustain our health, our economy and our quality of life. It is irresponsible and unsustainable to allow the use of the land, water or air for a dumping ground with no account for the cost to our society. There is a growing number of Caymanians qualified in this area and more should be encouraged and supported in pursuing a career in this field. Environmental quality is one issue that affects every one of us every day. Let’s move forward in the way we manage it so that our children and theirs can flourish in it.

The time for talk is over; it is now time for action. On May 20, you the voters can take that action.

Derrington Bo Miller, is an independent candidate for George Town.



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  1. Anonymous says:

    Interesting point raised here: what happens to the untreated sewage? it just sits in the ground?

    You know I have always wondered about the high cancer rate in Cayman. Government needs to look into whether this sewage causes sickness

  2. Anonymous says:

    I keep hearing that bo miller has good ideas but lacks follow thru. Nonetheless, i am inclined to support him as one of the stronger independents. Perhaps with support for miller (as an Idea Man) can get some effective solutions.

    seeing the type of posts on this website I am questioning whether there is enough smart GTers to vote him in.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Good article: some interesting solutions for mt. trashmore.

    But you know Caymanians blow hot and cold over issues and have gold-fish memory: by weds Mt trashmore will be forgotten!

    Mr. miller I will be voting for you and fully expect you will put these matters in hand as a priority.


  4. Anonymous says:

    Government makes much of the discharge of nutrients from a dolphin enclosure located in the North Sound, but is silent on nutrient discharges from their own facilities located on the North Sound.

    what the heck ever happened about the dolphin waste license issue?

  5. Anonymous says:



  6. Anonymous says:

    Another NS mover and shaker: NS rules!

  7. Anonymous says:

    Excellent article Mr Miller and nice to hear a feasible proposal to address problems instead of just rhetoric.

    I am slightly skeptical tho about the additional bureacracy of establish an EPA and the cost to fund and run it – although I do not disagree that we desperately need it.

    • Big Al says:

      "I am slightly skeptical tho about the additional bureacracy of establish an EPA and the cost to fund and run it …"

      There are always going to be challenges with whatever meritorious ideas or suggestions that are put forward. Mr. Miller has produced quite a number of these ideas and I believe that if the voters of George Town give him the opportunity he will demonstrate how much can be accomplished. 

      I was at one of his meetings a couple of weeks back when he spoke about this. I remember hearing him say that he would draw qualified employees from the various Government departments and Authorities and basically pool their knowledge and resources under this one ‘umbrella’ or EPA.  So in otherwords, by pooling resources, you might find that there is one person at say the Water Authority who is essentially doing the same job as someone at DOE – then you could pull the appropriate person into the EPA, etc. 

      Knowing his position on streamlining and running a leaner more efficient system, I hardly believe that he would be introducing additional bureaucracy  to accomplish this.

      I hope and pray that the voters see and realize that this man is qualified and ready to go to work for  the people of the Cayman Islands and that they will demonstrate this by giving him one of their 4 votes.


  8. Anonymous says:

    "senseless provision that illegal structures are deemed legitimate after seven years if the Planning Department has failed to take notice within that period"


    Which genius came up with this??!!