Businessman fears the worse from water ban
Get your act together.
That is the stern warning to the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) from the owner of one of the island’s largest ornamental plant nurseries, as the country officially enters a three-month period of restricted water usage.
Unhappy with the current water restrictions imposed by the BWA, Managing Director of Landmark Nurseries Mark Gibling said it was time that the state-owned entity did a better job of tackling the island’s water woes.
Gibling’s comments have come as water restrictions took effect today and are expected to remain until May 31, 2016.
During that period the BWA has prohibited irrigation of gardens, lawns and grounds, washing vehicles by hose, washing roadways, pavements, paths, garages or out-rooms and filling tanks, baths, ponds or swimming pools, except in special circumstances.
But in an interview with Barbados TODAY this afternoon, an irate Gibling complained that the restrictions would hurt his business.
“Duh! Of course my business is going to suffer,” he immediately responded when asked if he would be adversely affected.
“If fishermen were told they couldn’t catch fish, would it not affect them? The Barbados Water Authority has to get its act together. The BWA needs to get out there and fix the water mains across the island.”
He revealed that while his nursery owned six 1,000-gallon water tanks, they were only enough to supply the five acre property at Portvale, St James with water for one day.
As a result, Gibling said he was in the process of building an underground water tank, which would be used to help irrigate the plants in his nursery.
However, this will come at a cost of around $75,000 and will not be completed for another six months. He urged Government to come forward with a plan to assist businesses like his that rely heavily on water.
“I think those businesses should either be given tax breaks, no interest, or low interest loans so that they would have more cash flow for water conservation projects.
“Right now I would love a $75,000 loan and then I would make this thing happen in three months as opposed to six months. But at the moment I have to do this out of my cash flow so it will take twice as long,” he explained.
Gibling added that while the water company needed to operate more efficiently, the public also had a critical role to play in practising water conservation.
Another business owner, Michael Thorpe, Managing Director of Midas Magic – a car valet company – also called for more dialogue between the water authority and businesses.
While commending the BWA for its recent efforts to address the country’s water shortages, Thorpe said he felt a meeting with stakeholders should have been held prior to the decision to impose the temporary ban.
“I can honestly say that the BWA has been doing a pretty good job, but I felt there should have been some dialogue first,” he explained from his Black Rock, St Michael office.
“They [BWA] should have looked at businesses and how they would have been affected and then there should have been some dialogue. They just shouldn’t have thrown it out there.”
Thorpe said while his business would survive the restriction, it would make work much more difficult.
He said he had already spoken to his staff and told them adjustments would have to be made, including the usage of buckets instead of hoses or power hoses.
“Work will be more tedious, but we respect what is going on.”
Meantime, while the hotel industry is expected to face serious challenges as a result of the prohibition, Divi Southwinds has put measures in place to ensure their operations or guests were not affected.
Maintenance Manager at the 133-room hotel Ryan Sobers said they were “adequately prepared”.
He disclosed that the property had a 1,000-gallon tank which it would use to maintain the hotel’s grounds; and was in the process of building another.
Additionally, Sobers said there were underground tank systems to supply the hotel with water in the event of a shortage.
“We are also looking at upgrading that particular facility that we can have a system that can carry the hotel for a matter of weeks instead of days.
“You can’t have a hotel in today’s modern world and have water shortages [because] it is a big inconvenience for the guests,” Sobers pointed out.
One business which will not be affected by the restrictions is Caribbean Plants Ltd.
Owner Dieter Burmeister told Barbados TODAY he did not depend on the BWA for water for his nursery because a 20-foot deep well on the property provided all the water that he needed.
He said because of the size of the nursery, it would be extremely expensive if he used “Government water”.
“I don’t need treated water for the plants, so the water from the well is more than enough,” Burmeister said.