Expressing concerns at the level of contaminants that threatened the island’s drinking water, Minister of Water Resource Management, Dr David Estwick this morning announced Government’s intention to construct a Reverse Osmosis Plant at the Belle, St. Michael.
Estwick said this project was important because for a “very, very” long time, “we had known that the water quality in Barbados was deteriorating”.
“We have the evidence that the total nitrate as a concentration in relation to the litres of water is almost and at times beyond what the WHO would consider drinkable water in relation to total nitrogen,” he said.
The minister revealed that there were several other contaminants about which Government had significant concerns.
“We have some ideas as why this is happening, but irrespective of the cause, we have to concentrate on what could be some of the specific solutions we can find,” he added.
As a result of this, the Barbados Water Authority started looking at the reverse osmosis facility in 2008.
“The objective of the reverse osmosis plant is to be able to, along with dilution, … reduce via a physical process, contaminants within the water so that at least we can retard for a period of time, having any risk to our potable water,” he explained.
In providing more specific details, Project Manager Stephen Lindo announced that it was hoped to get the venture before Cabinet by April next year, and once a contract was awarded, to begin construction about two to three months afterwards.
Lindo said authorities looked at the levels of nitrate in the catchment areas of St. Michael, particularly the Belle, as well as New Market and Waterford Pumping Stations, where it was found that the nitrate levels were approaching the threshold of the WHO — 10 miligrams per litre.
Lindo said the Barbados Water Authority thought it necessary to reduce this level of nitrate and examined a number of options, which included the reveres osmosis plant and bringing water from the desalination plant at Spring Garden and mixing it with the water at the Belle, because the Spring Garden water was lower in nitrate.
“We are looking at using brackish water to augment the supply that we would lose through the reverse osmosis process. So we have short listed six firms to submit bids. We have done our preliminary works, and therefore, these six firms that have been short listed, we are preparing RFP, requests for proposals,” the BWA project manager stated.
He said these firms would submit designs as well as costing for this facility.