Residents and businesses operating on the south coast must take a significant portion of the blame for the running sewage, which caused a stink on the tourist belt last year, according to the Barbados Water Authority (BWA).
During a walkthrough of Perone Village, Worthing, Christ Church yesterday morning, BWA’s Industrial Waste Inspector Nichole Austin told the media that investigations by the water company had found that improper disposal of industrial and household waste had resulted in undue pressure on the system, causing it to malfunction.
“It was a joint effect in terms of having debris and grease blocking the sewer line; in addition there was the rains which infiltrated the systems and the sewer system is only supposed to take sewage, it is not supposed to take rain water,” Austin said.
The BWA official contended that those who clogged the system did so out of ignorance rather than malicious intent, because the south coast sewerage plant had been introduced without a proper educational programme for those plugged into the system, about the best practices for its use.
It was for this reason that the BWA has embarked on a public education initiative to prevent a repeat of the problem, which lasted for several months and prompted ridicule and disbelief among Barbadians and visitors alike.
“It will be a continual maintenance programme that we are going to be dong is ensuring that they [residents] are not only going to be seeing a face but they are also going to get the necessary information. I believe that the sewer system was put down without adequate public relations about what the customers would now be responsible for. Persons were only initially told that they are no longer going to a well but they were now attached to a system going to the front of the road and that they would be charged,” Austin explained.
The water company spokesperson acknowledged that poor maintenance of the sewer plant was a factor; so too were the protracted water shortages in the east and north of the island, which meant the BWA had to decide between allocating limited finances to fixing the sewer pumps or bringing relief to water scarce areas, she said.
“We are not debunking the argument that maintenance of the plant was a factor because we did not get the parts in time because of financial restraints. We had the water woes and when we compare the water woes and sewage, you would be more inclined to have your money going towards fixing water shortages, if we have to be honest,” she said.
Austin explained that as long as the public continued to monitor what was being introduced into sewer lines, while the BWA kept an eye on manhole covers and lines for breaches, there ought to be no repeat of the crisis, which severely impacted upon residents, restaurateurs and tourist accommodations. She also confirmed that the BWA had secured new equipment to address the issues at the plant.