A recurring sewerage problem in a section of Holetown, St James is creating a major stink and proving to be a headache for some business operators there.
Owner of Surfside Restaurant and Bar Michael Henry complained bitterly to Barbados TODAY that sewage flowing freely from wells on the compound of the Holetown Post Office was hurting his bottomline.
While the sewage does not get onto his premises, patrons must walk past the post office, just where the wells are leaking, to get to Surfside Restaurant and Bar.
Barbados TODAY identified at least four areas from which the contaminated water was leaking, including one from which the water was running onto the compound of the Holetown Police Station, which lies adjacent to the post office.
The water, which had a pungent stench, has settled in other areas and was even making its way towards the sea.
An upset Henry, who has been operating in the area for just over three decades, said his calls to the Ministry of Health to quickly rectify the problem seemed to be falling on deaf ears, and he was concerned that if not addressed urgently it could lead to major health problems.
“I talked to the Ministry of Health and they are looking into it, they said. I called them and they say they can’t do anything about it . . . [but] if it was me leaving water on the sand, they would close [down my business] already.
“It is even giving a worse odour now. When people are coming to the restaurant now they are turning back. You come to dinner and have on your nice shoes and clothes, you don’t want to be walking in smelly water. For the last year now they used to send a truck to pump off, but every three weeks it reoccurs,” he said.
The business owner, who publicly complained about the issue early last year, said he was prepared to take the matter to court if it were not addressed once and for all.
“Every three weeks get a truck down here and pump the sewer off . . . because I am losing business. I am going to get my attorney to look into it. I can’t take it anymore,” he said.
Henry said while the situation was ongoing for sometime, it seemed to have worsened within the last year.
Pleading with the authorities to “get it fixed”, Henry recommended that if money was the problem, Government should make special arrangements with a company to do the job.
Meantime, Shawn Phillips, who frequents the Surfside Restaurant and Bar after work, told Barbados TODAY he was concerned about the foul smelling water flowing freely in the area.
“This bar is one of the well known bars down here and I am here almost every day after work. I have to pass through this everyday. This should not be here. This is unhealthy. This is hazardous. Tourists and children come down through here. Look at this, a Government building with a police station and post office,” Phillips said.
Inspector of postmen at Holetown Post Office Arthur Williams told Barbados TODAY the problem had been a recurring one for more than seven years, but it seemed to have worsened in recent times.
He said while many reports had been made about it and some remedial work carried out occasionally, which included the drawing of the well, “so far we haven’t seen any sense of this matter being resolved.
“From time to time we call and get it drawn off. He [Henry] is saying every three weeks . . . every three weeks, yes, could be a good idea of taking it and getting it sorted out in a way that it can draw off and keep it at a level that it don’t overflow. But this problem should be rectified from the source, which is the bottom,” Williams advised.
Williams said he and his staff were also concerned about the problem and he recommended the construction of a new and improved well, arguing that the old one was under tremendous pressure.
He reasoned that it was also possible seawater, as well as rain, was getting into the wells, exacerbating the problem.
“We are concerned because we have to endure the stench of it every time it overflow because it is backed up. We have to even call in our main office in town for somebody to call the ministry to come in. [They] get the trucks come and pull it off then it settles down for a little while then it reappears,” he said.
“The long-term solution, I believe that this problem needs either a new well to be dug or that well should get some access to some drainage where it can be drained away from here into another system because this system seems to be a problem.”
Efforts to reach the Ministry of Health’s environmental health department were unsuccessful up until the time of publication.