A broken seal at the Bridgetown sewage treatment plant, blamed for a stench that has spread over the surrounding area, has been fixed, but grease continues to dog the waste disposal system, Minister of Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams revealed today.
He declared that although the Lakes Folly plant had been completed (at rehabilitation) just last October at a cost of $12 million, parts do go bad from time to time.
Abrahams explained to reporters: “They had an issue with a seal that is now fixed. I mean the reality is that everything requires maintenance and while we accomplished what we accomplished, you have to maintain the plant on a continuing basis. The best-kept plant is going to have issues every once in a while. So we had a slight issue, we diagnosed it and then we replaced the seal.”
But the Minister complained that oils and fats, items specifically restricted from the sewage stream, continued to clog the system.
He called on commercial user to desist from the practice of dumping grease down the drain.
Abrahams said: We’re doing our best to try to minimize the effect of that on your system, but the public needs to step up to the plate, stop pouring things down the sink. We are at the point now where we are going to start our investigations, we’re going to do inspections and we are going to disconnect people who are not toeing the line.”
The minister repeated an earlier threat to ramp up inspection of businesses and seek to disconnect and prosecute offenders.
The water resources minister said: “When you pour it down the sink you figure that problem has disappeared. The problem might have disappeared for you, but you’ve now created a problem for everybody else. We have done a lot of work both at Bridgetown and with the south coast system. But it would amount to nothing if the public of Barbados does not change its behaviour and be more responsible. It is our sewage system. It is our sewage network. People need to stop being selfish and be responsible. Think of it as yours. Consider how you would treat it if it was yours alone and act that way.”
He declared that under his watch, Barbados was not going to revert to days of sewage flowing on the streets of the south coast, nor the days of the Bridgetown treatment plant functioning at less than half of its capacity, because of the poor disposal habits of a few.
He told reporters: “If we need to change legislation or upgrade legislation to be able to prosecute people criminally for it, then we are prepared to do that. We are not going back to the situation that obtained in Bridgetown last year when the plant was almost on the verge of collapse and we are not going back to the situation that obtained on the south coast when sewage was all in the street. We will do whatever we need to do to ensure that protect those systems.”
Abrahams, who is also energy minister, spoke to the media this morning after presenting prizes to Tai Gill of the Lawrence T Gay Memorial Primary for placing second in the ministry’s renewable energy essay competition.