Barbadians got a sobering water warning today.
Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, warned that the island could not continue to draw such huge quantities of water from its aquifers without serious consequences.
He was at the time speaking at the official opening of an irrigation system at Newcastle, St. John.
“I want to take this opportunity to say to Barbadians that I do not want to be alarmist, but my medical training has always taught me to be true, because if a patient has cancer I have to tell him he has cancer and not a cold,” Estwick said.
“Barbados is suffering from a serious challenge with respect to water and water management has to be upgraded and it has to be dealt with to international standards.”
Estwick explained that Barbados had a total water catchment capacity in its underground aquifers to accommodate about 44.7 million gallons a day being pumped. He further explained that the 44.7 million gallons a day pumping capacity served 19 coastal sheet water wells from which the Barbados Water Authority draws. In addition, there are four inland stream wells.
The minister pointed out that the total volume pumped from those wells by the BWA equated to approximately 32 million gallons per day. Additional, he explained, Barbados had eight approved farming districts that do their pumping under licence arrangement drawing from the underground supply.
The St. Philip West MP said the farming districts pump between eight and 12 million gallons per day.
This means, he said, that Barbadians were pumping water from the aquifers at the exact rate at which it was being recharged.
“That is a very dangerous thing for this country,” Estwick said. “It simply means that we must mitigate distress on Barbados in terms of long term developments if we are to continue not to have water underdevelop this country.
“As I said, I do not want to be alarmist, but I think you need to understand the importance of what I am trying to say. It is therefore necessary that our regulatory bodies understand the importance of water harvesting and water management.
“It is also very important that we understand the value of re-using water after it has been tertiary treated. It makes no sense spending millions of dollars on a treatment plant to take water to tertiary standard which is better than the World Health Organisation drinking standard and then send it out to sea,” Estwick said.
He repeated that Barbados must “execute water harvesting”.
“We must execute re-use of treated water and must look at augmenting our desalination capabilities,” the minister warned. (NC)