The man responsible for the decision to dig injection wells as a short-term fix for the south coast sewage problem has come out swinging in defence of his decision.
In the wake of charges by Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams that the $3.7 million project had failed, and therefore, was a waste of money, former Minister of Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick today described the charge as “absolute nonsense” and warned “the facts will come out” in time.
Speaking at a news conference last Friday, Abrahams said the six wells, which became operational shortly after the Barbados Labour Party came to power following the May 24 general election, had failed, and Government was forced to find an additional $2.4 million for a new short-term fix.
He also claimed the wells simply could not handle the load and became clogged shortly after they went into operation.
However, in his first public interview since the election defeat, Estwick told Barbados TODAY Abrahams was simply making excuses after realizing that there was no easy fix to the sewage problem.
“All I would say is that you all will find out. Everything was supposed to be fixed in two weeks and they were supposed to have all of the big wigs working on this. As the last minister I tried to speak from a perspective of the technical side of the reality. I always said it was a complex problem that could not be fixed overnight and I explained what those reasons were based on my training in science,” the former minister said this afternoon.
Estwick said it was ironic that the minister sought to blame him for the latest failed attempt to resolve the vexing problem when they both relied on the same advisors.
“Abrahams will find out that the same people that advised me are the same people who are there. The same Burton Ward and other people who were part of the technical team are the same people who are now part of the engineering management of the Barbados Water Authority. So the facts will come out,” he stressed.
During Friday’s briefing Abrahams said because the multi-million dollar wells were inadequate, sewage was again being diverted through the Graeme Hall swamp.
He also said the administration was unable to find the well schematics and had no information on the tendering process, stressing that “the wells worked for a little while, but as we expected the wells failed”.
However, Estwick today said the company that dug the wells had the relevant expertise, and he questioned why Abrahams would hold a news conference to discuss the matter when the owner of that company was abroad.
“That is absolute nonsense. The owner of Ward Drilling, Burton Ward, dug those wells and he is an expert. Currently he is out of the country but when he comes back he will provide all of the information as it pertains to the depth and capacity of the wells. So he [Abrahams] is the minister, let him talk. My time to talk will come,” Estwick told Barbados TODAY.
“It is unfortunate that these comments are being made when that person is in Europe as they would have all of the logs for testing, which would show the capacity of each well,” he added.
Abrahams had said last week that in order to keep the south coast streets free of raw sewage, Government would have to build a temporary outfall.
“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.