Faced with new threats to the island’s drinking water supply, the Freundel Stuart Administration is turning to new legislation and policy for answers.
Minister of Water Resources Management Dr David Estwick announced this afternoon that the Barbados Water Zoning Policy and intended supporting legislation were now with the Chief Parliamentary Counsel for drafting.
“This new policy seeks to allow for Barbados to manage and protect its water resources in different ways, given that we now have a different set of contamination threats,” Dr Estwick told the launch of the St Philip and Christ Church Water Augmentation Project at the new Groves Water Wellfield and Pumping Station in St Philip.
He said the proposed policy would establish exclusion zones within which n development would occur, while outside of those zones, development would only take place under certain conditions.
“We have had to move way beyond the old zoning system of zone one, zone two, zone three, zone four and five. . . zone one being based largely on bacterial contamination; but we are not now faced with bacterial contamination alone, we have to deal with pesticides, we have to deal with herbicides, we have to deal with fertilizers and whole lot of other water-borne contaminants that we have to manage,” the Minister of Water Resource Management told his audience that included parliamentarians, Chairman of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) Dr Atlee Brathwaite and Acting BWA General Manager Dr John Mwanza.
He said the need for this initiative came out of a study done a few years ago under the charge of BWA project manager Stephen Lindo.
Turning his attention to the water augmentation project launched this afternoon, Dr Estwick said it came at a time when the Town and Country Development Planning Office had informed his Ministry that about 13,000 residential and commercial lots in the St Philip/Christ Church zone were not receiving permission to build because of a lack of water in the area.
He said that having now to find three to five million gallons of water per day as required to meet those demands, the BWA determined this could be done in two ways.
“One involves the transferring of some of the water. . . that is the spare capacity from the desalination plant at Spring Garden, via the Ionics mains that were commissioned in July 2015, to Fort George, to Providence and from Brittons Hill to Searles,” the Minister noted.
“The second option involved carrying out hydro-geological investigations in the St Philip aquifer and the development of new wells.”
Dr Estwick said the second option became necessary to avoid compromising the Hampden Pumping Station and its relationship to Rising Sun Reservoir. As a result, he said, the water augmentation project was born.
Following the press of a button by the Minister this afternoon, the people of St Philip now have access to a greater supply of drinking water coming from the Groves Pumping Station.
Mwanza explained later during a guided tour of the facility that initially, residents of St Philip will be supplied with water but this would be expanded to areas of Christ Church and the northwest of the island as demand grows.
The launch of the project comes against the backdrop of a public outcry over persistent water outages and shortages in parts of St Joseph and St Peter in particular.
The Groves Wellfield and Pumping Station comprise 16 exploration wells, with an average depth of 300 feet, 12 abstraction wells of 120 feet, 12 monitoring wells of 165 feet and collection mains of 4,264 feet in length and 12 inches in diameter.
The pumping station houses two multi-stage centrifugal pump sets capable of providing a designed flow of three million US gallons per day with a 50 per cent reserve capacity.