Farmers are getting creative in how they curb the impact of the Garbage and Sewage Contribution (GSC) levy which has seen water bills double and triple since its introduction three months ago.
A number of farmers interviewed by Barbados TODAY are reporting that they have put in mitigating measures in places that lessens their dependence on the water utility.
Hainsley Burke, who owns and operates two farms in Salters and Cottage, St George, said that the tax has not affected him as he has implemented a rainwater harvesting system at his farms.
“I cannot complain as I do water catchment, so I cannot say that it affects me because I live in a rainfall area and for instance, we had rain last night and all of my drums full. I would not say that the increase of water has a great effect where my business is concerned,” Burke said.
He said that he is absorbing the increase in the water bill and not passing it onto his retailers, but he advises farmers to also seek to implement a rainwater harvesting system at their farms.
“I would advise other farmers to do water catchment as you see a big difference when you do water catchment. I absorb it to because I do water catchment,” he said.
“We all have to bear the burden to help Barbados out of the situation that it is in and hope that gradually things improve. But, we all have to understand the situation and help out in anywhere we could. I have traveled to countries who have been devalued and I would never like to see Barbados devalued,” Burke said.
Another St George farmer Merylene Connell, said that she has discontinued use of her sprinkler in a bid to curb her growing water bill.
“I do not use the water like how I use it before because I know that it went up. I have heard other people complaining about it, so I try to cut down. Yes, because I used to use the sprinkler, but this is weeks I have not used the sprinkler to save the water bill,” Connell said.
Over at Clifton Hill, St Thomas, one farmer said that his water bill has shot up from $720 a year to over $6,000.
He suggested that all customers who owe the Barbados Water Authority for unpaid bills should be prosecuted – except what he called working-class citizens.
“All the people that have been on the South coast water system for the last 10 or 15 years who have not been billed are liable. The same way that the big rich people in Royal Westmoreland were liable had to pay for the water they had. The rest of us should not be made to pay for a sewage treatment that they should have been contributing to,” he said.
The farmer said he should not be paying the Garbage Sewage Contribution Levy as he has not had a garbage collection since he moved to the area in 1994.
“I would tell you zero garbage trucks has come to my house to collect garbage. I have letters that I have written the Ministry and they have responded that their trucks are too old and that I should put my garbage at the end of my gap. When I have to pay more money for garbage, I feel disgusted because they have never gave me a service,” he said.