Faced with a wave of criticism over its handling of the ongoing water shortages in the country, the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) is assuring Barbadians that it is treating the problem with “utmost urgency”.
Just yesterday, Opposition Leader Mia Mottley said the current water problem was a national emergency and should be treated as such, while noted political scientist Dr George Belle today described the situation as a problem of national proportions.
BWA Acting General Manager Dr John Mwansa is making it clear the state-run waterworks agency was not sleeping on the job.
As a matter of fact, he told Barbados TODAY this afternoon the search for solutions was the company’s top priority.
“We are treating it with the utmost urgency in terms of trying to provide solutions to the problem,” Mwansa said.
He repeated previously announced short-term measures, including the commissioning of a borehole at Sweet Vale, St George to supplement supplies in the Castle Grant system, the replacement of faulty equipment and improvements to the tanker emergency service.
The BWA boss also mentioned the pending deployment of four additional tankers currently awaiting clearance at the Bridgetown Port, but which he said were expected to be pressed into service by early next week at the latest.
“They [the new tankers] would help tremendously in terms of the frequency of being able to replenish the community tanks and also the areas that can be covered,” the water company boss said.
He acknowledged that the tankers presently in operation were not enough to cover the affected communities, particularly in light of the widespread outages.
“[We are] doing the best we can with the numbers [of tankers] we have. Of course, you could always improve. But when you look at the extent of the outages . . . the limited number of tankers we have, obviously without it some areas are not receiving water for prolonged periods of time,” Mwansa stressed.
He said the borehole at Sweet Vale would begin operating in about two weeks and would add another half million gallons of water per day to the Castle Grant system, improving the water supply to St Joseph residents.
“Normally we would pump 1.3 million gallons from Golden Ridge to Castle Grant. So with this new system we will put into place, we would be in a position to pump one million gallons towards Castle Grant, which is still a shortfall of point-three million gallons, but it would be a substantial improvement,” the Acting General Manager revealed.
Mwansa told Barbados TODAY the areas giving his department the greatest challenge were St Joseph and one area along Highway 2A that included the communities between
St Silas and Orange Hill, St James and Mount Brevitor, St Peter.
He disclosed that the rain which then Tropical Storm Matthew dumped on the country last week only helped the Bowmanston Station in St John because its system of pumping water was connected to the surface.
“So that water would get to Bowmanston well a little quicker than the standard ground water system across the island,” he stated, making it clear that unless there was a lot more rain the situation was not likely to return to normality anytime soon.
Asked what his greatest concern was, the BWA boss replied: “The biggest concern is essentially getting enough rain to replenish our wells and being able to put temporary solutions into place to mitigate the current outages.”
He said long-term plans to fix the problem included replacing the age-old mains, augmenting supplies through desalination and any other available options.