Residents and business owners in Fontabelle and Cheapside, The City will have to wait at least until next week before there is any relief from the uncomfortable stench emanating from the Bridgetown sewerage treatment plant.
Acting General Manager of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) Charles Leslie today said there was no way to expedite the process to that will bring an end to the smelly situation.
Leslie said by next week those who live and work in the affected areas should be breathing a lot easier.
“We are slowly working on it, our chemist are working to try to neutralize it. Once the bacteria was upset to the extent that it was it would take a little longer. We anticipate that by next week the smells would be gone,” Leslie said.
After the overpowering stench of sewage forced the closure of several businesses in Fontebelle, on Monday, placing even more unwanted attention on the beleaguered BWA, the water company issued a statement saying that “initial investigations suggest that a portion of a noxious substance may have been dumped at the plant” on Saturday, February 10.
“This substance knocked out the bacteria population integral to the waste water treatment process. This has contributed to the strong scent coming from the plant, which is being smelt in surrounding areas,” the statement said.
The following day it issued an updated statement which said that efforts by the Wastewater Division (WWD) to control the problem had yielded results.
However, the nauseating odour was present up to this morning, leaving businesses to struggle in the harsh environmental conditions.
Head the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) Charles Herbert on Tuesday described the situation as embarrassing, arguing that the loss of productivity in this unforgiving economic climate was deeply worrying.
“I am really concerned about the disruptions, which are huge, and the fact is that the problem is awfully close to the port. We have thousands of tourists coming in, Bridgetown was filled with tourists yesterday and it is hard to imagine that they did not walk across, and I am sure that many persons were affected by it,” Herbert had told Barbados TODAY.
This afternoon, Leslie said that any attempt to fix the problem swiftly would have made matter worse.
“It hasn’t dissipated completely because the bacteria is now regenerating and this was a slower process than anticipated,” he said.
The water company official explained that the normal pH reading, which measures the hydrogen ion concentration, was about six or seven, which meant it was neutral.
However, he said it had gone all the way up to 13, one notch from the top of the scale, which meant there was a high alkaline level.
“If we had gone through the normal processes of adding acids to bring it back down it would have upset the whole thing and caused the smells to be even more accentuated. So we had to do that slowly, which meant taking out some of it and bringing in new sludge to bring the pH down,” said Leslie, who gave the assurance that the additional load diverted from the malfunctioning south coast sewerage system played no part in the flare up in Bridgetown.
“It was not caused by the additional burden. Normally we have haulers who bring materials to the plant. This particular hauler thought he had emptied out his truck of materials that were not supposed to go into the plant but apparently that was not the case. So it is not because there was an overload of the plant or anything like that. We are going to come up with a programme in the future to deal with the other haulers,” Leslie said.