The board of the state-owned Barbados Water Authority (BWA) is due to give urgent consideration to a set of new proposals designed to bring immediate relief to long-suffering residents and business operators affected by sewage leaks along the south coast.
BWA Rapid Response and Communications Manager Joyann Haigh told Barbados TODAY this morning she expects the board to move quickly on the plans for easing the misery being experienced not only by those living and working in the Worthing and Hastings, Christ Church communities, but persons traversing the area as well.
“We put a couple of proposals to the board [on] the way forward as to how to fix the problem in its entirety. However, we are trying to take some steps right now, which includes taking some of those impacted directly via their internal plumbing . . . to take them offline as a temporary measure in order to give them a little ease until we get the problem resolved,” Haigh said, adding that efforts were also being made to reduce the level of the waste water flowing through the drains.
However, she cautioned that the proposals might not be implementable unless the levels go down.
“Once the levels go down, then we implement the plan. The plan will be shared with the media shortly, as soon as the relevant authorities see [the plan] which is in their hands, then we will be able to move forward from there,” the BWA spokeswoman added.
Haigh said once the go-ahead was given to fix the bigger problem, the public would be informed about the completion time, what the process would entail and what inconveniences, if any, may occur.
She revealed that so far, three customers have been taken off the sewage network, including Kentucky Fried Chicken in Hastings, and Worthing Court Apartments. The BWA official also told Barbados TODAY there were plans to remove the Gentle Breeze Apartment Hotel at Worthing, which has already closed its doors due to constant flooding of premises with the effluent water from the system.
When informed by Barbados TODAY of the closure of the food catering business next to Gentle Breeze, the BWA spokeswoman said she was not aware of that development but promised to have it investigated in order to render any assistance possible.
“I personally am not aware of it . . . but it doesn’t mean our inspectors are not. But I will check with them today pertaining to this catering company and even see if there is anything that we can do directly for them to give them temporary relief,” Haigh promised.
The sewage leaks, which have been ongoing for more than a year, have also forced the closure of the popular Chicken Barn restaurant at Worthing and have caused at least one guest at a nearby Parone Village apartment to pack up and leave. Spokesman for the south coast residents, the community activist Adrian Donavan, also told Barbados TODAY this week that a second guest was on the verge of following suit.
However, while admitting that a resolution to the chronic leaks was taking longer than anticipated, Haigh said the problem was a work in progress and a complex issue.
“We discovered several issues over the past couple of months which obviously were not the same as we had earlier on late in 2016 going on 2017. So we are going to work towards that . . . we do apologize . . . it is regrettable . . . and we do apologize for the inconvenience caused, but the problem is a very complex one and requires a lot of brain power, a lot of resources and a lot of financing,” Haigh said.
In the meantime, ten cases of gastroenteritis were reported at food establishments in the area on Christmas Day.
However, Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George told Barbados TODAY earlier this week that there was so far no medical evidence to suggest that those cases were linked to the sewage problem in the area.
“We have found no bacterial or viral contamination in the establishments across the south coast,” he said explaining that teams from the Ministry of Health had carried out an environmental health assessment of food kitchens in the area.
However, despite the absence of a direct link, Dr George said the ministry had moved to establish several guidelines which the outlets must follow in the preparation, storage and delivery of food on the south coast.
These include regular washing of hands, ensuring hygiene practices were at least at a minimum standard, and reporting all illnesses to the ministry.
He is also urging motorists using the south coast road to slow down in order to avoid splashing pedestrians.