Government is yet to say when the sewage mess along the south coast is likely to be resolved.
However, General Manager of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) Keithroy Halliday this afternoon announced that the BWA was embarking on a new strategy in the hope of bringing relief to long-suffering residents and business operators, who have been affected by persistent sewage leaks over the past year.
While not offering any guarantees, Halliday told reporters that work would start immediately on linking the Bridgetown and south coast sewerage systems.
In this regard, he revealed that excavators, costing well over $1 million, which had been ordered two months ago through Innotech, would be deployed by the BWA.
“As soon as the technical handover is completed, they will be put to use immediately, at least, in the first instance to assist us with the reactivation of the Bay Street lift station,” he said, while pointing out that some excavation work was already taking place “to make sure we can actually join one sewage network to the other”.
With the busy winter tourism season now about to begin and at the height of the festive Christmas season, the BWA head, who has been in office since February 15, said the idea was to bring some form of relief to the south coast, which is the island’s main tourist belt.
“This is one option being explored. There are really no guarantees. We are not absolutely certain it will work to the level or extent we want it to, but we cannot explore all of the options,” the BWA boss said, explaining that the additional load would be added gradually – one pump at a time – to the Bridgetown sewage system to ensure that it could be supported.
“In addition to that, we have to ensure we upgrade the pumping capacity at our River Road lift station and as well we need to make some changes in preparation at the Bridgetown sewerage plant. All of that is happening concurrent to the steps being taken on the south coast,” Halliday added.
He further explained that one of the tanks at the Bridgetown sewerage plant would be desludged and cleaned before it is put back into full operation.
“We recognize though that once you are connected, it is not necessarily a connection that we cannot control. If we need to slow [it down], the sewage can flow or [we can] possibly close it off at any point in time. But this is just in an effort to relieve really what is going on the south coast in addition to other activities we are pursuing,” he added.
In a further move to help ease the pressure on the south coast system, the BWA general manager reported that one business – KFC – had already been disconnected from the network and the authority was “looking at the possibility of taking out maybe three or four others in the most critically-challenged areas”.
He explained that KFC had been operating on a dual system but its septic tank has now been recommissioned now that it has been taken off the south coast sewerage system.
“We are looking to see if there are any others where we can recommission the suck well or the septic tank,” he added.
“[However], at the end of the day, we are very sensitive to the fact that they need to stay open to make money. And as long as we can facilitate that, even if it for a week, two or three weeks, we need to try to do our very best, ” he said.
Halliday also gave an update on the tests done by an expert who was flown in from Trinidad and Tobago. He said those “dye” tests, which were conducted two nights ago, have confirmed what the BWA has been saying all along – that breaches in the sewage lines were responsible for the overflows of raw sewage onto the streets, especially in the Worthing, Christ Church areas.
“It was a confirmatory analysis or confirmatory investigation,” he said, adding that the same area identified by the BWA as having a possible breach was confirmed by the testing.
However, he said additional tests were being done to determine whether the breaches extended beyond the Worthing area.
Technical personnel are also due to explore the 15-foot deep underground sewage lines to find out the extent of the blockages and breaches.
“We [then] have to turn our attention to the effluent line and see whether we can fix that breach,” Halliday reported, while warning that the process will take some time and has to be carefully planned out. [email protected]