Barbadians and visitors alike are being warned that they may have to stomach the recurring sewage stench along the south coast for a while longer.
Minister of Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick issued the warning yesterday in response to persistent complaints from residents and business operators in the area that the sporadic problem of raw sewage overflowing into the streets was simply not going away and was ruining their lives.
However, Estwick warned that there could be no permanent relief until a modern treatment plant is built, even though he could not say definitively when the situation would be fully remedied.
In the meantime, he is appealing to affected residents and business operators along the south coast of the island to bear with the authorities given the magnitude of the challenges being experienced with the existing system for which he stressed that there was no quick fix solution.
“My personal position is that we will do a stop-gap measure, but what we need is to build a modern facility that would carry us into the next 40 [to] 50 years and let that facility be of the highest technology of the period,” Estwick said, adding that “one of the things that I want to ensure that does not occur is that we are not going to waste our effluent out in the ocean.”
Speaking to Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of Wednesday’s launch of a new project by the Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation, Estwick, who is also the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, explained that the new sewage plant would be a tertiary facility which means that “you have essentially water quality of drinking standards . . . and we are going to have that water, instead of being sent out to the ocean [as its presently the case] to feed the fish, come back in and recharge the aquifers . . . especially during our periods of drought which we expect to come very soon”.
However, he was insistent that Government alone must not be made to shoulder all the blame for the current sewage mess, explaining that some physical structures and equipment that were in use along the south coast had not met the Town & Country Planning requirements.
In addition, Estwick said breaches were discovered in the sewage distribution system, which he maintained could not be blamed on the Government.
“You can’t blame a Government for that. That is just natural, ageing degradation and poor technology use at the time,” he said, while acknowledging the need for quick and aggressive action with the near three decades old sewage plant also dogged by frequent breakdowns of the pumps, as well as capacity and other challenges.