The Barbados Water Authority (BWA) is struggling with an aged and leaky water supply system that in some places is over 150 years old, and despite massive planned overhauls, no immediate fix is available.
This information did nothing to soothe St Joseph residents who came out in their numbers last night to meet BWA officials and vent their frustration about an irregular and, more recently, absent water potable supply in the parish.
Irate householders spoke in the Grantley Adams Memorial Secondary School hall about getting no water for 18 days of last month. One woman said she had exhausted her sick leave days because of an inability to prepare for work without water; numerous persons related horror stories of having to take care of elderly parents and grandparents without water for days on end; and many questioned the laying of new piping.
Decourcey Holder of Lammings said the remaining 12 days of last month when running water returned to the taps, it was for an hour to an hour and a half per day.
“So if you were aware and you didn’t do anything about it, that means that you didn’t care,” he told the BWA top brass panel and the meeting.
“We only hear on the radio last week that there were going to be shut offs from 8:30, but all the rest of the weeks there were shutoffs, but you hearing it now. You know why? Because this meeting was coming here. So you come here to pull wool over the people’s eyes in St Joseph.”
As if the woes of St Joseph folk were not enough, they also had to contend with rude and unhelpful water truck drivers who turn up unannounced, they alleged.
“This is a problem that has plagued us for many years. I’m not going to run away from that because we have had many complaints about our tanker service delivery,” BWA acting general manager, John Mwansa, said.
“And it is one area that we intend to address more forcefully . . . . We intend to bring structure to how that tanker service is provided. We are looking to put in a system where we will be able to tell you when the tanker service is going to come in a particular area and what time of the day.”
Mwansa said that along with the announced time of truck supplied water delivery shortly, there will be instituted a code of conduct for the BWA workers.
But that was the only area for which Mwansa, along with acting engineering manager Charles Marville, and project manager, mains replacement programme, Lawrence Cumberbatch, could promise an almost immediate remedy.
The other headaches, the residents heard, would take time.
Cumberbatch promised pipe replacements in six months time onwards.
St Thomas Member of Parliament Cynthia Forde said constituents in Chapman’s Village, Bloomsbury, and Springvale “are feeling the pain” of St Joseph because they share the same water supply.
“Some of the points raised by the distinguished gentlemen at the head table make sense, but when you are living in a real world, very little makes comfort for us,” she said.
She pointed to growing populations in districts and a lack of supporting water supply infrastructure, and declared, in reference to millions of dollars being spent on a new BWA headquarters, “the Government . . . should have emphasised sinking reservoirs, putting some pumping stations, make our life easier [rather] than go and build that monstrosity in the Pine”.