FIRST OF TWO DESAL PLANTS INSTALLED IN ST LUCY
The Minister in charge of managing the country’s critical water resource is touting desalination as the only solution to the island’s perennial water woes.
Over the last 12 months, residents, mainly in the north and east of the island, have been experiencing frequent interruptions to their water supply, with many complaining of dry taps for several days.
The water shortages have been blamed on drought conditions which the country experienced last year.
Yesterday, Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Dr David Estwick officially opened a temporary containerized desalination plant, bringing hope of some relief to residents.
The plant, installed at Hope, St Lucy, will provide an additional 300,000 gallons of water a day to the Alleynedale, Lamberts and Boscobel systems, similar to what was done in 2003.
Dr Estwick also announced that work had begun on the installation of the second plant to be located at Trents, St James, next to the existing Trents Pumping Station.
That plant is expected to be completed by November 2016.
The St James-based plant, which is expected to produce an additional 2,000 cubic meters of water when it comes on stream, will pump the precious commodity to Highway 2A, from where water will be supplied to Castle Grant through the existing lift stations at Lancaster and Apes Hill.
However, the minister said Government was also looking at long-term augmentation of the system, revealing that two contractors had been selected to negotiate with the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) to build two desalination plants to supplement the available supply and provide a reserve supply capacity to meet future water demands for developments, and to mitigate climate change impacts on water resources.
The minister also announced that consideration was being given to an expansion of the existing Ionics Freshwater Desalination Plant at Spring Garden.
“Water is critical to the sustainable economic and social development of the country. Our freshwater resources are limited and are currently almost fully utilized,” Dr Estwick said.
“As a step towards improving the long-term sustainability of water supply, the Barbados Water Authority will continue the implementation of potable and non-potable water augmentation options aimed at increasing the availability of potable water supply and enhancing the reliability of potable water supply. This facility here is one step to achieving that goal.”
While the BWA currently has a limited water tanker fleet of six, eight additional water tankers were ordered in December 2015.
Dr Estwick said two of these tankers had arrived on the island and were being processed for deployment and the other six were scheduled to arrive next month.
Dr Estwick promised at a news conference early last year that he intended to fix the water problem which has been plaguing Barbadians for years.
“We going fix it fuh yuh! If the others [Barbados Labour Party administration] couldn’t get it done for 15 years, it will be fixed,” he said at the January 13, 2015 press conference.
The minister said at the time it would take some time to ease some of the distress, even though he further reported that Government had acquired $80 million from the Caribbean Development Bank for the fixing of water mains; and that there would be the addition of eight water tankers to the BWA’s fleet, along with the installation of two packaged desalination plants.
At the same time, he announced a national “reuse policy”, which he said had already been approved by the infrastructure committee of Cabinet and, at first blush, looked to be a reasonable idea.
“For those persons who don’t use much water, we may have to create an incentive for them to do it; but for those who use their potable water from in the house to wash cars and wash down outside and flush toilets, it would be a savings to them because they would be paying less to the BWA and that would be a natural incentive,” Estwick said in outlining how such a plan would work.
In April of this year the BWA tested a borehole in Sweet Vale, St George, devised as one of the solutions to augment the Castle Grant reservoir that feeds parts of St Joseph, St Andrew, St Thomas and St John.
However, as the water shortages continued, the BWA announced bans on water usage for domestic chores such as gardening, washing cars and the like.