Barbados’ current water woes have been placed squarely on the shoulders of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).
During a press conference today, Minister of the Water Resources Management Dr David Estwick accused the BLP of failing to address the situation during its 15 years in office, despite having adequate notice that a water shortage was looming.
Furthermore, he also accused the Opposition party of “misleading Barbadians” and “attempting to use a national crisis precipitated by natural causes to create political strife”.
Insisting the island’s water problems did not start in 2008, Dr Estwick revealed several studies done during the tenure of the Owen Arthur-led Government which highlighted the impending problems.
“It is therefore very unfortunate that some politicians would seek to mislead Barbadians and go as far as to suggest that there was a clandestine and diabolical plot by the BWA [Barbados Water Authority] to victimize by denying residents of St Joseph, St Andrew, St John and St Thomas potable water. Absolute rubbish!” he maintained.
“The poor water infrastructure capacity that Barbados now has to mitigate drought conditions did not start in 2008.”
Dr Estwick revealed that a 1997 study showed that during drought conditions, water consumption in Barbados exceeded the renewable water resources.
Additionally, he said it revealed that 40 to 60 per cent of the water pumped into the mains leaked out.
Further he noted that seven years later, a study done by Drosdoff in 2004 sounded the alarm bells and then in 2006, Dr Estwick said the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations reported that the island’s renewable water resource was almost fully exploited.
Yet he argued that the BLP did nothing.
“Armed with these data, the people that are now misleading Barbadians and their constituents and attacking the BWA did very little to mitigate this serious threat to the water resources of Barbados,” he contended.
Dr Estwick said while they did build the island’s lone desalination plant at Spring Garden, the BLP never operated it at full capacity.
Additionally, he lamented that the Northern Upgrade project, which was intended to provide over 12,000 cubic metres of water from the plant to the northern parishes, never got off the ground.
“They never completed that project. Are these not the same areas that are now short of water?” he questioned.
The Minister said under the leadership of the BLP, there was not one single attempt to replace the old and leaking mains.
“The politicians that are now out there picketing the BWA and fooling their constituents did nothing to address the causes of the problems now plaguing the northern parishes.
“This Government is now forced to do them because of the drought and we are proud to do so because it is our responsibility at the BWA to supply potable water to all residents and businesses,” Estwick maintained.