Water officials here have been advised to adopt the Bermuda model as a means of alleviating the chronic water shortages that face the nation.
Barbados is classified by the United Nations Commission on Water as a “water scarce” country, placing it slightly ahead of the desert nations of the Middle East in terms of availability per capita. And nowhere has this been more evident in recent months than in some northern and eastern districts, including communities in St Andrew, St Joseph, St Peter, St Lucy and St John, where residents have been thirsting for reliable running water.
The Barbados Water Authority (BWA) recently announced it had begun drilling boreholes in Sweet Vale, St George and had been working with a private entity to develop a new feed at Groves, St Philip, to provide an additional three million gallons of water to supplement the supply to St Philip, Christ Church, St John, St Andrew and St Joseph.
However, social activist David Comissiong has recommended that the authorities follow Bermuda’s example where homeowners are required by law to harvest water for their use.
“I have often wondered why we in Barbados have not adopted the techniques that have been deployed in Bermuda to deal with their water shortage programme,” Comissiong told Barbados TODAY in an interview on the current water situation and plans by Member of Parliament for St Joseph Dale Marshall to organize a demonstration outside the new $63 million BWA headquarters.
“Anybody who has visited Bermuda would know that the roofs of all the houses, 100 per cent of the houses in Bermuda are by law required to be painted in a limestone based white paint and to be equipped with water catchment tanks into which all rainwater that runs off the roof is deposited. One wonders why Barbados has not sought to adopt a similar methodology.”
The activist further suggested that Barbados seek to access grant funding available under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Comissiong also took the Freundel Stuart administration to task over the BWA headquarters, arguing that “our scarce financial resources” ought to be directed towards finding new water sources.
“If you know that you do not have an abundance of capital resources what is a priority? Is the construction of a building a priority, or an investment in boreholes to access new sources of underground water the priority? I would think that the latter would be the priority,” he insisted.
The Clement Payne Movement founder, who promised to support the Marshall-organized demonstration, argued that development was not about the construction of fancy buildings and “white elephant structures”, but the careful management of scarce financial resources to address people’s basic needs.
This was something the country’s first Prime Minister Errol Barrow recognized, but was lacking among today’s political class, he contended.
“There needs to be a change in the thinking of the political administration. We need to understand that prestige buildings and structures are not a priority. Barbadian people are hurting in many areas. There are many human needs that are not being addressed and therefore this should be the priority now of Government policy. We can do without the trimmings and extravagance at a time when the people are suffering,” Comissiong stressed.