The Barbados Water Authority (BWA) is reporting significant progress in the digging of 300-foot injection wells that are expected to offer a medium-term solution to the long running sewage crisis on the island’s south coast.
In fact, the BWA’s Acting General Manager, Charles Leslie revealed today that barring any hiccups, relief should come much sooner than anticipated, although he did not say exactly when.
Minister of Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick said last Saturday that with the digging of the wells, people and businesses affected by the sewage spills would get relief within three to six months.
But at a press conference this morning at the site of the first dig at Graeme Hall, Christ Church, Leslie said that based on the progress made since digging began last weekend, he expected a considerable amount of time to be shaved off the minister’s estimation.
“The time period that our minister had given would have been our worst case scenario, but we are expecting that we are going to do it a lot faster. The guys who were doing the drilling initially anticipated that they would have taken ten days to do each one, but because they are working around the clock they are able to do it in a much shorter period of time,” he said.
“We are also doing the installation of the pipe work and that is looking as though it is going to be a lot shorter period as well. We are looking to get the first one working by next week,”
Leslie added, while noting that the wells must pass the scrutiny of the Environmental Protection Division and the Ministry of Health.
“Once the first one is completed, then the testing will begin while we work on others. Once the agencies are comfortable with the results then we would start the diversion.”
But even as they work, the problem appears to be spreading.
In Hastings, Worthing, St Lawrence Gap and Maxwell, people who were previously unaffected by the spills were reporting that sewage was leaking from some sewer caps in their areas.
In Worthing, sewage has begun pooling on the compound of the Silver Fox arcade in the last week, forcing the owners to place sandbags to contain the foul-smelling water. The arcade is the latest in a long line of businesses on that stretch of road to be plagued by the backflow of sewage.
In the last three days, guests at the Silver Beach Apartments were forced to evacuate their holiday accommodation after sewage swamped the premises.
Worthing Post Office, which the Government said would have been reopened at the beginning of this month after being shut for the last three months, remained closed as sewage continuously flows from the sewer caps outside the building.
But Leslie has pleaded with the public to hold strain, stressing that the BWA had stepped up its cleaning and sewage removal efforts.
With more sewer caps being compromised, the $18, 000 daily price tag for pumping off sewage overflows is expected to increase, but the BWA spokesman said Government was prepared to do whatever was necessary.
“We are also intensifying our cleaning of the network. We know that as a result of the blockage that we have in Worthing, the velocity of the water is slowing so that you have grease and other things accumulating. So, in a couple weeks you will see additional crews out there cleaning and flushing. We have been doing it mainly at night but we now have to intensify that and do some in the daytime,” Leslie said.
“At this point in time we have to do whatever it takes to make the customers more comfortable. If intensifying the programme means that we have to expend more money, it is something that we would have to do to alleviate the discomfort,” he stressed.