The uncertainty about the quality of the drinking water on the south coast has gone beyond the United States embassy.
Barbados TODAY has learnt that Wills Primary, a privately run school in close proximity to the ongoing sewage spills, has advised its students to take bottled water to school, and not to drink the tap water.
Principal Nicole Wills refused to say what prompted the decision, insisting that “we are a private school so we are not commenting on that for the newspaper”.
However, a source familiar with the development told Barbados TODAY the school wanted to safeguard the interest of its students, and had written to the pupils advising them to steer clear of the tap water.
The US embassy issued a statement on January 25 indicating that tests conducted on tap water in residences of some of its staff had found “elevated levels” of bacteria.
“Recent tests at several US Embassy residences revealed bacteria at elevated levels in the tap water. As a precautionary measure, the US Embassy recommended to its staff to boil their drinking water or use bottled water,” the alert said.
It did not specify the locations of the residences where the tests were conducted, but it emerged at a meeting the following day between Government and US Ambassador Linda Taglialatera that tests were done at five of the 68 staff residences, including Enterprise, Graeme Hall, Atlantic Shores and Palisades, Christ Church, all in close proximity to the sewage spill plaguing the south coast for more than a year.
The authorities have insisted that the water is safe, with Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George telling Barbados TODAY as recently as yesterday that the Barbados Water Authority “even went further today [yesterday] to say they are 100 per cent sure that the water is safe in all of Barbados”.
However, this has not stopped one local water bottling company from seeking to capitalize on the US alert.
Western Wholesale Inc of Lower Estate, St Michael has released an advertisement in which it quoted the full text of the American health alert.
“We at Western want you to be safe! Great prices on the highest quality spring water. Get your NAYA Water today,” the advertisement concluded.
When contacted this afternoon General Manager Daniel Pile told Barbados TODAY by telephone he was unaware that the commercial had been approved for broadcast.
“I didn’t even know about the ad so I will have to discuss with the marketing team. I know nothing about the ad. I heard some discussion about it here, but I didn’t know that it was finally done and sent off. I am going to look into it because the marketing manager may have gotten the okay from the boss,” Pile said before checking with his marketing manager.
However, after checking the general manager said he was no longer willing to offer further comment.