As Barbados gets ready to throw open its doors to thousands of visitors for the upcoming winter season starting mid December, the Barbados Water Authority is giving assurances that the vexing sewage situation on the south coast will be under control.
At present, the authority is still managing dysfunctional sewer lines that have necessitated a diversion of sewage to injection wells while sewage overflows are going into the Nature Sanctuary of the Graeme Hall Swamp at Worthing, Christ Church, which has resulted in the closure of the nearby Worthing Beach.
General Manager Keithroy Halliday said today that repair work will start sometime this week on a second sewer line, thanks to the importation of an expensive piece of equipment called a cutter.
Halliday said the cutter, which another knowledgeable official priced at US$180,000, is used to trim the sewer liner to make sure the internal portions are smooth or free from any protrusions or obstructions that could be potentially distructive.
The BWA boss explained that with a liner already in place and needing to reinforce it, the cutter would allow the BWA workmen to install others so that when the repair process is over, they would be comfortable with the outcome.
“As we speak we have been flushing, we have been clearing the lines, we have been making preparations to make sure that the second liner can happen. The additional liner repair that we need to do will happen this week. Once that is done we can see a lot more return to normalcy because we will no longer be sending sewage to the injection wells… We will stop that.
“We will no longer have overflows into the swamp…that will stop. We will no longer have to manage the beach as closely as we have been managing, because all of that will stop,” Halliday told Barbados TODAY.
The general manager said he is optimistic the state-run company can put most of the sewage problems behind as it moves forward with repairs to the sewage system with a view to finishing in another two weeks.
“We have been making progress and we are satisfied that we will be able to push and get at least the significant repairs done in very short order. So to all tourists abroad and regionally, we say come on in, Barbados will be ready…for the winter. Once in operation it shouldn’t take no more than a night or two with the cutter…it is just careful, meticulous work. That is why we are optimistic that within a week we should get most of this work done,” Halliday declared.
“Once you start working on the ground, you get a better feel for the actual clearing on the ground and what’s needed. So we are trying not to say a day or two, but we are optimistic that we can get it done very quickly,” he added.
Halliday said the priority continues to be repairs to the force main once rehabilitation work on the sewer lines is completed.
“The main priority has been in recent times to get the force main repaired. Once that force main is repaired that means we can stop sending sewage to the injection wells and partly to the swamp. It means we can reactivate the sewage line once we have protected it, we can do it cautiously. And once that’s going we know that we have really achieved most of what we wanted to achieve,” Halliday told Barbados TODAY.
He said the next step will be to fix the gravity line or the inflow line. The top BWA executive noted that some work has already started on that line, but this aspect will now be undertaken through special technology and will involve some 600 feet of line.
Halliday pointed out that when inflow line is finished, there should be no more intrusion of water and the circulating threat which officials previously experienced.
He said the repair process has not been without its challenges especially to the technical staff who have had to work with lines which reach as far as 15 feet under water.
“They had to exercise a bunch of caution. But we have been making progress,” the BWA spokesman stated.
For those who have been complaining about the sewage stench, Halliday told Barbados TODAY that is no longer an issue.
“The smell was really a temporary issue. There were two factors…one, we needed to make sure that there was substantial cleaning of the eastern canal in the first instance. The Ministry of Health and the Barbados Water Authority got that done. It was a very dangerous and treacherous process, because in some areas the canals were as deep as 20 feet. And we had to go through the process of clearing those canals, moving excess sewage and creating a meandering path to allow the sewage to flow and to settle,” he said.
He further noted that illicit dumping had caused stagnation of waste water which added to the offensive odor. “But as far as I know, that is no longer an issue and we are now into the maintenance phase where we would have to just make sure that on a weekly or monthly basis we continue to manage those canals,” Halliday added.
He explained that once the force main is upgraded this would mitigate against any noticeable stench.