A glass of water is proving more precious than a bottle of champagne as Barbados continues to grapple with the effects of a shortage brought on by drought.
The rich and famous living in the lap of luxury in Sandy Lane were no better off than the simple St. Joseph villager today as they all longed for the same thing — running water.
And while the Barbados Water Authority’s Joy-Ann Haigh has urged people not to panic, frustration rose today as residents in areas of St. Joseph, St. Thomas and some parts of St. Michael tried to fill as many buckets, basins and other containers with water as it flowed through their taps for the first time since Thursday.
Sources told Barbados TODAY that at various times since the start of this year, including over the just concluded Easter weekend, tankers had to be dispatched to the upscale residential area of Sandy Lane, some residential areas in Payne’s Bay and two hotels because of low water pressure.
A worker at a luxury St. Joseph residence said they were guests there and after being without water for the past four days they called the BWA to fill their 1,600 water tank. He explained that they, and by extension the country, could ill afford to have tourists carry a negative message about their vacation ruined by no water.
Other sources said BWA crews had been ferrying the liquid commodity to water scarce areas from early in the morning until as later as midnight to ensure that householders and livestock farmers have a decent supply to tide them over until the supply is restored or until the next visit by the tanker.
“It has been a busy weekend,” said one source who noted that when calls are made by customers they have to go regardless of if they were in guest houses, hotels, residential areas or on farms.
Over the Easter weekend tankers were in Rock Hall, Shop Hill Terrace, Proute and Sandy Lane. The BWA faced several challenges over the weekend, including three major burst mains in three days.
Haigh said those problems had been rectified but the water levels, particularly in areas fed by reservoirs at Golden Ridge, St. George and Warleigh, St. Peter had to be raised before service returned to normal.
For one resident in Parks Road, St. Joseph, the frequent outages were “just not good enough”. She said it seemed as though when the water was out in Christ Church or any other part of the country they were affected and she called on the BWA to tell them the real story.
“We pay our bills and this is not good enough. I have lived here for 10 and there must be more problems than what is explained. We want answers. Something’s gotta be done. This is overbearing,” she said.
Other residents also complained of having to get water from other districts or neighbours and friends. In fact, one office worker reported that she was unable to get a bath until she got to work in St. Philip.
A check with David Staples, one of the principles at Ionics Freshwater, which provides the BWA with desalinated water, showed the situation was normal at their end.
He told Barbados TODAY that they were still producing about five million gallons of water per day, which was the normal production supplied to the authority.
“From our point of view, everything is normal,” said Staples, adding that the challenge with increasing output would not just be on the production end but distribution.
“Where we are located, we use the BWA’s system for distribution, and that is at capacity. That is why Government is so keen to build new lines along the west coast. Right now the BWA’s pumps are flat out. If there was the ability to accept more, we would certainly look at that,” he explained. firstname.lastname@example.org