#BTEditorial – When relief is all the people want

No matter what way you look at it, the ongoing sewage mess along the south coast is a crying shame.

That tourists and locals alike have had to stomach this situation for one full year is nothing short of scandalous, when you consider the negative implications for this island’s bread-and-butter tourism industry and for the general health and well-being of the country as a whole of having human faeces and other forms of improperly treated waste seeping out vicariously into the street, and, of all places, in the heart of this island’s tourist belt.

However, we are not about to jump aboard any Opposition bandwagon calling on residents and businesses to sue the Government, or demanding the immediate sacking of one minister or another over a matter that is clearly beyond their imagination, scope and competence and which did not suddenly develop overnight; so therefore the hands of the Barbados Labour Party are equally as unclean as those of the current Democratic Labour Party administration, when one considers issues of a lack of maintenance and the significant wear and tear that would have occurred at the south coast sewage plant over the past 20 or more years.

We also feel it is crying shame that anyone would seek at this stage to politicize what is clearly a national disaster of potentially epic proportions. Rather than castigating the Government and calling on residents and businesses to contact their attorneys, as the Opposition Barbados Labour Party would have done yesterday, we would prefer to see workable proposals being advanced for quickly and effectively resolving this mess.

Yes, it is the duty of the current Government to ultimately fix this problem, but our concern is that the same level of technical expertise will exist in the Barbados Water Authority at the end of June as that which exists today. So even if we have a change of Government, we are likely to be confronted with the same problem that obviously requires a fix that is presently out of this administration’s reach.

After diving face first into the waters at Worthings Beach last December in a PR stunt designed to reassure tourists in particular that the beach was still safe despite the ongoing sewage leaks, we have serious difficulty believing that Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy and Minister of Health John Boyce have simply been sitting on their hands in the hope that this sordid mess, which thankfully is only confined to sections of the south coast, would simply go away.

Equally hard to believe would be that our very forceful Minister of Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick has been quietly standing around in the hope of a miracle falling down from Heaven.

We are more inclined to believe, as they would have individually suggested as recently as this week, that the problems run far deeper that they were initially advised. Therefore, no patchwork solution, which is what Government has seemingly been busy implementing over the last 12 months, amid what are nationally recognized severe cost constraints, will work.

With that said it is clear that national priorities will again have to change. Ironically and lest we forget this is the same Government that was faced with severe water woes in another section of country just a year prior. And while that ‘national crisis’ has now been brought under some measure of control, we now have a major sewage issue on our hands and not for any lack of response on the part of the Barbados Water Authority.

At the end of the day though, we need an urgent fix.

We take Dr Estwick at his word that this matter is now engaging the attention of Cabinet and that apart from bringing in outside experts, approaches have been made to the Inter-American Development Bank for funding to assist us in replacing the aged sewage system which was built back in the 1990s and is currently riddled with breaches and leaks.

We expect to hear much more on this plan in the coming days and weeks.

For surely no tourists will willingly pay their monies to come to this island to frolic around in anyone’s mess. Neither will anyone attempt to hold their noses and head out to the ballot box to elect anyone without a clear idea of how they will be able to get us out of this most unbearable and awful stink.

8 Responses to #BTEditorial – When relief is all the people want

  1. Andrew Beckles
    Andrew Beckles December 8, 2017 at 11:25 pm

    This is de best .He could fixed that problem in one.

    Reply
    • Ali Baba
      Ali Baba December 9, 2017 at 4:18 am

      no bro, building ah new plant is the way to go for dem..with a ppp arrangement, millions will vanish in thin air

      Reply
  2. Joe Blow December 9, 2017 at 9:12 am

    This sewage problem needs to be diagnosed carefully and thoroughly. I live on one end of the south cost of Barbados and work on the other, and I drive through this sewage mess several times every day at all hours of day and night.

    I have carefully watched to see if crews were properly diagnosing the issue, and from an engineering perspective I have seen almost no diagnostic activity.

    The first thing in diagnosing this issue that is very apparent, is that the problem gets far worse with rain. When it rains, we can clearly see rain water mixed with sewage pumping rapidly out of every sewer cover and man hole cover from the Nature Sanctuary to Hastings.

    This tells me that rain water is getting into the sewage system in huge quantities, and this should never happen. The rain water runoff drainage system and the sewage system, are separate systems.

    Therefore it is clear that there is a breach in the sewage pipes along the coast, into which rain water is entering. But not only will rain water get in, sand, and gravel and soil will get in also, and will block the sewage pipes and impede the flow of sewage during periods without rain.

    This would explain why there is sewage backing up and coming out the manhole covers during dry periods. It is also clear from monitoring this mess, that there is usually no sewage, or the least amount, coming out in the early mornings, but by lunch time it starts to seep out.

    This suggests to me that during night time periods when most people are sleeping, and there is less pressure on the system, it can handle that capacity. This confirms that the issue is one of flow and blockage.

    It would therefore be prudent to deploy crews with pipe inspection cameras from manhole to manhole, to inspect the entire sewer system on this coast during the late night periods when the system is at least capacity. This would allow the crews to pinpoint the exact location of the breach and dig up that section of road to repair it. There may also be more than one.

    It would also be prudent to deploy diving crews to inspect and clean the underwater diffusers off the coast, to verify there is no blockage where the treated sewage enters the sea, as this can also cause backups. The pumps and impeller systems should be checked for damage caused by rocks and debris entering the system, and the outflows checked for the presence of sand and rocks to verify it.

    It is very possible that one of more breaches of the sewage transmission system could have been caused by earth quakes in recent years. It would be prudent therefore to correlate the date of the first sewage leak, with the dates of known earth tremor activity affecting Barbados, to determine if there is a correlation.

    There is no need to dig up the entire south coast and replace the whole system at tremendous cost. We just need to properly inspect the system and locate the obvious breaches and repair them.

    Reply
    • John Everatt December 9, 2017 at 9:39 am

      Yes, this is called maintenance. But apparently the BWA is ill equipped to maintain the system even though they are paid to do this. The question I ask is do we have professionals running the BWA or political appointees?

      Reply
  3. harry turnover December 9, 2017 at 9:58 am

    Yes Joe Blow…tell that to David Estwick Mr.Know all who don’t mek rain.

    Reply
  4. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce December 9, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Relief when wunna voted out of office!

    Reply
  5. Sheila Prime December 9, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    I can’t say how upset I am with this awful situation. I’d planned a special holiday staying in a guesthouse in Worthing over Christmas and saved hard for it. It’s now too late to find accommodation elsewhere and I’ve already paid a hefty deposit which is non returnable. I don’t blame the guesthouse owner for not saying anything – they still have to keep their business going but it just is not fair that my hard earned money seems to be wasted. If I had the choice I would not be coming and my much anticipated holiday now feels ruined. I know I can get a bus to other areas but am stuck sleeping there in stinking unhygienic conditions.
    I’ve found out that this has been going on for so long, so why on earth has it been left to get worse and worse. People are going to get ill, so what does it take before this is remedied? Perhaps widespread coverage in British and American news media will
    finally get the Waterboard to pull their finger out and get it sorted!

    Reply
  6. TOBIAS WORRELL December 12, 2017 at 3:52 am

    Doc. David, you are very right here. and yes, to think that in a 21×14, we can be overridden by a sewerage problem of this gravity is more than shameful and to take so long to even give it the attention it needs is more than thoughtless. Truth be told, I cannot understand WHY this was ignored in this way.
    WILL THE GOVERNMENT OF BARBADOS STOP EVERYTHING ELSE YOU ARE DOING AND CORRECT THIS PROBLEM NOW????
    THIS IS SEWERAGE! THIS IS NATIONAL HEALTH OUTBREAK! THIS IS DISEASE RUNNING OVER THIS COUNTRY AND TOURIST GOING HOME TO LET THE WORLD KNOW THEIR LIVES AND HEALTH COULD BE IN DANGER….WHAT ARE YOU PEOPLE DOING OR EVEN THINKING?
    WHY IS THIS SITUATION NOT THE BIGGEST EFFORT WE ARE INVOLVED IN? WHERE IS THE LEADERSHIP? THE SILENCE NEEDS TO COME TO AN END.
    HOW DO WE TELL BABARDOS WE SHOULD BE GIVEN OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE THEM AGAIN AND FOR A THRID TERM BUT CAN ALLOW THIS SERIOUS HEALTH HAZARD TO GO ON AS LONG AS IT HAS???
    I LOVE MY PARTY;;;I WILL ALWAYS BE A MEMBER AND SUPPORTER BUT I HAVE A SERIOUS CHALLENGE HERE. HOW DO WE IN GOOD FAITH SAY WE ARE THE PARTY TO LEAD OUR PEOPLE? WHERE IS DECISIVE LEADERSHIP? WHERE IS THE CHARACTER OF OUR PARTY?
    GUYS, YOUR HEADS ARE IN THE WRONG PLACE; YOUR EMPHASES ARE MISPLACED; COME BACK TO LOVEING BARBADOS; COME BACK TO PUTTING OUR PEOPLE FIRST!
    NOTE THAT THIS SELLING OFF FOR A FEW DOLLARS IS NOT,,,,I REPEAT, IS NOT SOLVING OUR PROBLEMS BECAUSE WE ARE IGNORING WHO WE ARE AND OUR STRENGTHS…
    PLEASE, PLEASE WAKE UP BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE….

    Reply

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