The Barbados Water Authority (BWA) today announced a temporary ban on the use of water for a wide range of activities including watering of gardens, lawns and grounds.
And unless the rain begins to fall soon, the BWA is likely to begin rationing water, the state agency said.
The water company imposed the three-month ban under Section 14 (1) of the Barbados Water Authority (Water Services) Regulations, 1982 because of the “one in a century” drought now affecting the country.
The prohibition, which goes into effect on Tuesday, also bars people from filling or supplying tanks, ponds, baths or swimming pools other than dipping tanks for cattle, domestic baths not exceeding 120 litres in capacity and elevated reserve tanks not exceeding 800 litres. The elevated tanks must be connected to household sewerage or water supply systems.
The washing of roadways, pavements, paths, garages, out-rooms and vehicles by hose is also forbidden.
“While this prohibition is in effect, no person shall use or cause or permit to be used, for any prohibited purpose, any water supplied by, or obtained from the pipes of the Barbados Water Authority,” said the notice.
It also warned the public that it was an offence to contravene the ban, the consequences of which was a fine of $500 or one month imprisonment on default of payment.
Manager of Engineering Charles Marvell told Barbados TODAY this afternoon if the rains did not come soon the BWA would have to implement even harsher measures such as rationing.
“We are hoping not, but it is possible,” Marvell said. Asked what were the options, he replied: “I don’t want to say, but there are other things that are available . . . but we don’t want to say at this point in time. But it could get worse, but we are praying that it doesn’t.”
Pressed further as to whether water rationing was an option, the manager of engineering said: “We have not gotten there yet, but that is also a possibility . . . . We need rain.”
“We are in a drought,” he continued, “and it has affected our ability to supply and it continues to affect our ability to supply.”
Responding to the ban, Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul told Barbados TODAY production in the crucial agricultural sector would be seriously affected.
“I can tell you it is going to have an impact on local agricultural production. If you are saying you cannot water the crops, it would have some implications. I would have to have discussions with the persons at the Barbados Water Authority,” Paul said.
The BAS chief executive added that his organization and the farming community would have to seriously consider water harvesting.
“There are some other areas, though, we are going to try to see if we can look at. We must also mention the fact that there are certain enterprises that do give off ground water that we are not utilizing. What we can say from this is that we will be looking to see how we can get the tank at our disposal so that any water that anyone disposes that can be considered ground water, we can use as irrigation,” the BAS chief noted.
The ban did not go down well with Opposition Senator Wilfred Abrahams who described today’s announcement as “disingenuous” and a knee-jerk reaction which was impractical in its application.
“I find it a bit disingenuous at this point in time that the Government should be cracking down on water usage. While I understand the need for conservation of water, it makes no sense that we are trying to apply the standards in a 1982 piece of legislation in the reality of 2016.
“In particular, it is distressing that no thought [was given] as to what is going to happen to farmers. So what? A man who has an agricultural holding, that earns his living by the cultivation of crops can no longer water those crops?”
The Opposition parliamentarian said he was concerned that farmers could lose entire fields, placing their livelihoods at risk.
He also suggested that the water problem was more serious than Government had been admitting.
“The Government needs to come clean with the people as to the extent of the problem we are facing and what is necessary to deal with it. It makes no sense just drop very rash prohibitions on people that have not been implement for over 25 years,” he contended, adding that the Freundel Stuart administration must develop a comprehensive water management policy for the island. He also recommended a review of the 1982 Act to bring it in line with current realities.