The $3.7 million injection well project began by the then Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government as a short to medium term fix for the south coast sewage crisis was a waste of taxpayer money, Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams has charged.
Abrahams today revealed that the six wells, which became operational shortly after the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) came to power following the May 24 general election, have failed, and Government must now find an additional $2.4 million for a new short-term fix.
The minister said the wells simply could not handle the flow, forcing the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) to again divert effluence through the Graeme Hall swamp.
“We came in and we found one solution on the table with the wells having already been dug and it made no sense to do anything else other than utilize those as the first option while exploring the other options,” Abrahams told reporters at his Country Road, St Michael office.
“The wells worked for a little while, but as we expected the wells failed. When the wells became clogged, we had no other option but to release the overflow into the canals on the side of Graeme Hall,” he added.
Abrahams further explained that the emergency fail safe was necessary to ensure there was no return to the days of long-running sewage overflows onto the streets. However, in order to keep the south coast streets free of raw sewage, Government would have to build a temporary outfall, he explained.
“We didn’t know the capacity of the wells and we are dealing with an unexpected flow at all times . . . .We were left with no choice. At this stage it is not simply a problem of keeping sewage off the street, but it is a case of managing where it goes. So we are about to start the construction of an eight-inch temporary outfall for Graeme Hall because we cannot keep subjecting the swamp to what has been happening recently,” he said.
Abrahams siad even though exploratory work had been ongoing for almost two month on sewer lines stretching from the front of the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary to the old Scotia Bank building in Worthing, the BWA had yet to locate the spot where the underground lines have been breached.
He advised businesses and residents to brace for several months of disruption, as the BWA may be left with no other option but to dig the entire stretch of road to fix the problem.
“We have an overseas contractor that has come in and he has been conducting a lot of the robotic camera inspections from inside the sanitary sewer and the force main. It is slow, tedious work because the camera gets to a point then encounters a blockage. We have to withdraw the camera and clear the blockage only to encounter another. It is slow, but we are making progress.
“If we have to replace that line we are going to have to dig up Highway 7 from Graeme Hall all the way to the traffic lights at Rendezvous. All the utilities would have to be involved and the roads would have to be blocked and at some point in time we might have to restrict access entirely. So digging up that road is a last option because it is going to take months,” he stressed. [email protected]