The perennial stench returned to the south coast tourist belt Friday morning, after an electrical outage at the sewage plant in St Lawrence, Christ Church resulted in a shut down of one of the pumps.
Head of the Waste Water Department at the state-run Barbados Water Authority (BWA) Patricia Inniss confirmed the development, which she said had only served to make matters worse for the authorities who were in the process of effecting repairs at the South Coast Sewage Plant, which has also been negatively impacted by recent heavy rains.
“With therefore the [water] levels quite high, the pump shutting down unexpectedly was the last thing we wanted,” she told Barbados TODAY as members of the waste water unit were Friday pressed into emergency mode.
“You have to appreciate you are dealing with water and high voltage. So we have to be careful, we don’t want anybody hurting themselves,” Inniss said, adding that officials were seeking to avoid any further breakdowns.
However, she gave the assurance that once the system was repaired, residents would be notified.
“We have spoken to a majority of the residents, hoteliers, we have spoken to the Massy group, we have spoken to the Lantern group, the Gentle Breeze Apartment, and all of these persons are working with us . . . and they understand the problem,” Inniss said in reference to some of the affected businesses.
She however warned that even when the pump was put back into operation, it would take some time for the extremely high water levels to drop in the canal, which leads from the Graeme Hall Swamp to the sea.
Friday, when the Barbados TODAY team visited the area, there was also evidence of drains, overflowing with offensive-smelling waste water, which some residents suggest contains sewage.
However, Inniss was not willing to go that far in her assessment even though she explained that “at normal low levels . . . we expect [the canal] to be about 20 centimeters . . . [However, when] I checked [Friday afternoon] and it was over 70 centimeters”.
“This is the reality that we are dealing with. We are hoping the Drainage Division would open the canal soon so we could have a more natural drainage from the high water levels in the swamp right now. That would help us as soon as the pump comes back on,” she said.
Inniss also told Barbados TODAY the BWA was in the process of acquiring two emergency pumps, which were being sourced locally and expected to be in hand by this weekend.
“We need to reach the stage where no Barbadian or visitor is concerned that the rain is going to cause a problem. Right now we are not yet there. We are still a little sensitive. In six months, we have been trying to fix problems that have been slowly creeping up on us over the years,” the water quality expert said.
However, residents in the Worthing and St Lawrence areas continue to be put out by the current overflows of waste, with 84-year-old Clement Depeiza expressing disappointment Friday after finding out that the Worthing Post Office was closed when he arrived this afternoon to cash his pension cheque.
“Today is the day to cash it [but] when I get out here now, this close. Not good enough,” Depeiza said.
Community activist and spokesman for residents of the area Adrian Donavan also called for a lasting solution to the south coast sewage problems, which he said have been inconveniencing residents for far too long.