As if the prolonged water crisis in St Joseph has not created enough anxiety, residents are now questioning the sanitation of the community tanks placed in the parish by the Barbados Water Authority (BWA).
Some residents have reported feeling ill after consuming water from the tanks, while others stated that they had limited the use of water collected from the tanks to washing and cleaning.
Persons bitterly complained that BWA workers would refill tanks that had been empty for several days without any form of sterilization. In addition, some residents have noticed a rank smell emanating from the stagnant water.
“I don’t drink the water, nor my family don’t drink the water. I never see them clean these tanks. They [BWA] just put the hose in after the tank empty for three days, then some of the stagnant water left back in the tank and start to have a smell and the trucks come and put fresh water on top of that. So I only use the water for washing, bathing and flushing the toilet. I don’t cook with it neither,” Tina Drake said, while filling buckets at the one such tank in Chimborazo, St Joseph.
She was backed by 77-year-old Winston Gamble, who complained of intestinal issues after drinking the water.
“At 77 years old I have to walk a long distance to get pipe water because I can’t drink that [water from the community tank]. If I only drink that it is serious blockage issues . . . We talking about 50 years [Independence] but instead we gone back 70 years when I had to carry water as a little boy,” Gamble said.
Another resident, who requested anonymity, was even more direct, complaining of suffering from diarrhoea after drinking the water. The same was true for several neighbours and other members of his family, he contended.
Meanwhile, residents of Mellows Hill, St Joseph were pleased with the regular supply of water. However, they too said they were concerned about the cleanliness of these tanks.
“I only use the water from the tanks for washing and flushing toilets. I have never seen those tanks treated and they should be treated because it has a rank smell and I can’t deal with it,” Ernita Kellman told Barbados TODAY.
Minister of Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick recently unveiled an emergency short-term strategy to ease the water crisis facing the country, which included the provision of water storage tanks at affordable costs to residents in the worst affected communities.
The residents today likened this to putting the cart before the horse, as they remained unclear about how the tanks would be filled. Some who had taken up the offer divulged that after placing the tanks in elevated position, the BWA trucks were unable to fill them. Others told Barbados TODAY that BWA drivers had bluntly told them that their priority was the community tanks.
“I wonder what is the point of tanks if I can’t get water to put in them. What ah must do? Bring in some girls from Jamaica to dance in them? It does not make sense,” one person who did not give his name said.
“I got my tank filled once and I had to beg to get it that one time. People would buy the tanks but they must know that they would get water to put in it,” he stressed.