The taps are dry tonight in thousands of homes across four parishes following an emergency shutdown of the Golden Ridge pumping station in St John.
The Barbados Water Authority (BWA) said it was forced to turn off the water for 14 hours, beginning at 6 p.m. today due to dangerously low water levels at the station which supplies communities in St John, St Thomas, St Philip and St George.
“The drought is still continuing and we are still having challenges to meet the demand in the St Joseph area, especially to the top of the island out of the Castle Grant system and the reservoir that we do re-pumping from is Golden Ridge. It has been keeping very low levels and we have had to institute an emergency shutoff at that pumping station tonight, from 6 p.m. this evening to 8 a.m. tomorrow morning,” BWA Acting Chief Engineer Charles Marville told Barbados TODAY this afternoon.
Marville said this measure was necessary in order for the levels at Golden Ridge to rise sufficiently so pumping into Castle Grant could resume tomorrow.
However, he said following an evaluation a decision would be made on how to proceed.
“We will assess the situation tomorrow and we will determine again if it is necessary for us to continue,” the Acting Chief Engineer said.
As a result of the shutdown, residents in the four parishes will experience low water pressure and outages. The areas affected will include Hopewell, Vaucluse, Content, Rock Hall, Shop Hill, Christie Village, Cane Garden Heights, Proute, Strong Hope; Applewaites, Locust Hall, Bournes Village, Paradise, Jericho, Market Hill, Cottage Grove Development, Cottage Retreat, Newbury, Todds,; Tappy Pond, Wilson Hill , Sherbourne, Claybury, Cherry Grove, Pool, Four Roads, Lemon Arbor, Gall Hill, Carters , Glebe Land, Clifton Hall, Edge Cliff, Church View, Newcastle, Foster Hall, Messiah Street , Colleton, Coach Hill, Sargeants Street, Pothouse, Society, Church View; Dodds, Moncrieffe. Parish Land and neighbouring districts.
However, even though HMP Dodds in St Philip is situated in the affected area, the state-owned water company said it would not shut off the prison’s water supply.
The utility company assured customers that it was doing everything possible to rectify the problem. However, the top water official also put Barbadians on notice that additional restrictions were likely if the drought persisted and water levels did not improve soon.
“It depends on what happens. It is difficult to predict what will actually happen to our pumping stations. We are monitoring them very closely; we hope that we would not have to, but if necessary, we would have to take the necessary action to ensure everybody get some water,” Marville warned.
The BWA imposed a three-month ban from March 1 through to May 31 on the non-essential use of potable water, making it illegal to use drinking water for washing roadways, pavements, paths, garages, out-rooms or vehicles by hose. However, the water company eased those restrictions on businesses whose survival depends on water consumption for activities like irrigation, detailing of vehicles or refilling of swimming pools.
With respect to consumers in the north who have been experiencing water problems, Marville suggested that householders were not doing too badly. “The north is still holding its own, but we are continuing to monitor that very carefully – that is St Lucy and the Boscobel area of St Peter. We are monitoring that very, very carefully,” he assured.
The water company spokesman added that an outage in the Pine, St Michael was only for a short time to allow for a connection to be made and did not constitute a major problem.
The senior engineer also said the recently opened pumping station in St Philip would also be called into action soon to help ease the problem in those areas.
“At present we are about to conclude some work to allow us to bring the effect of it into Bowmanston and then Golden Ridge. So in the not too distant future, we should be in a position to start seeing the impact further uphill,” Marville noted.
He said the remaining reservoirs across the island were “holding their own”, noting that the challenge still remained the Golden Ridge and Castle Grant systems. “We are putting some things together and hopefully in the not-too-distant future we should be able to push additional water into Castle Grant,” the top engineer stressed.