Based on the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) standards the cumulative annual renewable freshwater availability requirement for Antigua, Bahamas, Barbados, Haiti and St Kitts amounts to 18.7 billion m3, whilst they currently have
just 14.2 billion m3. Aquifers are drying out and becoming salinated and this deficit of 4.5 billion m3 is set to increase as climate change impacts manifest, water intensity of lifestyles increase, population growth continues and integrated water resource management measures remain absent.

Suriname, on the other hand, has 228,000 per capita m3 of renewable freshwater resources annually, and 151 billion m3 of freshwater that is flowing into the ocean every year, which could potentially be used to fill gaps of renewable freshwater availability in the Caribbean islands.

According to Suriname Water, one innovative and arguably increasingly logical way to alleviate freshwater stress is through the mechanism of Fresh Water Transfer Allocation Agreements (FTAAs), basically a freshwater trading market between highly water abundant and high water scarcity economies, which would be done by utilising a secure water transfer infrastructure that will enable freshwater transfer at an agreed-to place, quantity, quality and price. To that end, they are doing a trail run of towing a massive balloon filled with water 1,000 miles across the Caribbean to Barbados. The trial balloon will be 65m long by 4.5 m diameter and will sit 94% below the top of the sea making the load more stable. If the trail is successful they will use balloons 650 m long. I think water conservation methods should be pursued first but if it comes down to a choice between desalination and water transfer across relatively short seas, then maybe the latter makes more environmental sense.

Fresh Water Transfer Allocation Agreements or… balloons to Barbados – Caribbean – ech2o newsletter snippet