Traditionally, the Santa Cruz River – and its tributaries – have served as a space where people living along its course can gather for social activities.
But overtime, social activities centered around the river have declined due to its decreasing volume of water and quality.
In a recent interview, Wesley Karimbocas told Cari-Bois “the river used to be way better than it appears to be right now.”
He explained, “I remember when I was a young child, my friends and I would go to the river after school to swim.
“The water was higher and cleaner , there were more fishes, the rivers and natural pools were deeper.”
While climate change isn’t the sole cause of the river’s decline – as there are quarries in the area and points along the river are polluted – its impact cannot be overlooked.
Published in the Nature Reviews journal in 2023, a study titled Global river water quality under climate change and hydroclimatic extremes highlighted that frequent droughts and shifting precipitation patterns due to climate change can decrease water levels in rivers, lakes and streams.
The study further stated that climate-induced warmer temperatures can also cause more frequent algal blooms and reduce dissolved oxygen levels.
These effects can do significant harm to ecosystems and aquatic species.
But a changing Santa Cruz river wouldn’t only affect the ecosystems it supports and social activities.
Reduced water levels in the river, and water quality, will affect the farmers who depend on the river to irrigate crops.
With climate change already projected to affect Trinidad with more frequent and intense droughts during the dry season, farmers will need to have reliable sources of water to irrigate crops.
So a degraded Santa Cruz river will affect the ability of farmers to plant a lot of their crops.
Overall, a degraded Santa Cruz River can affect the health and well-being of the communities which rely upon it.
A decrease in social activities can affect mental health and any effects on agriculture can reduce the availability of safe and nutritious food.
It’s important for people to think about how their actions can affect the river and climate change and be more environmentally conscious.