A hike in water rates is in the pipeline.
Exactly when Barbadians will feel it in their pockets is uncertain, but acting general manager of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) Dr John Mwansa has assured the country that the hike will come.
Speaking at a town hall-style meeting the Grantley Adams Memorial School auditorium which the BWA hosted for frustrated St Joseph residents who’ve been experiencing major water woes – ranging from irregular water supply to no for more than half of last month – he warned that as current resources dwindle, the authority will have to spend more money to supply fresh water.
Add climate change to the mix – which will increase the demand for water – and the BWA will have to invest more in desalination and generate recycled waste water and consumers will have to help pay that bill.
“Based on our current ground water resources, we cannot take too much more out of the ground than what we are taking now,” Mwansa cautioned.
“The current water rates cannot meet the requirements for all the expansion work that the Water Authority has to put in, so when we start putting in these additional works we can expect that at some point we will also have to adjust our tariffs in order for us to be able to pay back those loans.”
The BWA official explained that there were very limited options at this point to increase water supply in Barbados.
“One option is desalination . . . .The only problem is it will cost us more and we all have to pay for it. The other source of water that we have is basically from our sewage treatment plants,” he said, adding that because of Barbadians’ queasiness about drinking purified wastewater that could be used in irrigation and on some of the island’s golf courses.
But again, he stressed, the innovations needed to meet the anticipated water demands have a cost attached.
Explaining how climate change would affect water costs, Mwansa said climate change created more frequent droughts, which led to increase in temperature and hence, more demand for water.
“We will all want to drink more water, we may want to bathe more frequently, which will increase the water. The irrigation of crops would require more water. So all those factors have to be put into the solution we are looking to implement,” he said.
The BWA official also admitted that Barbadians are paying for air coming out of their taps since the existing metres register air in their readings.
He said, however, that would be eliminated once the BWA installs new metres.
“The new set of metres that we are looking to install only register water flow and do not pick up any air. So the issue of whether the meter registers air or not is one of the problems we are going to be addressing with a replacement of the metres,” Mwansa assured.