Already the 15th most water-scarce country in the world, Barbados also faces imminent threat to its potable water supply from climate change, the Ministry of Health revealed today, warning that the full impact of the threat is a lot closer than many may be inclined to believe.
And making more water available to Barbadians could eventually mean preparing to recycle wastewater, Medical Officer Dr Ingrid Cumberbatch has said.
Delivering the feature address for the opening of a ‘water quality surveillance’ training seminar held at the Pan American Health Organisation, Dalkeith Road, Dr. Cumberbatch said that global sea level rise by the year 2100 is projected to reach as much as 26 inches which could lead to saltwater contamination of the nation’s groundwater resources.
The sea level rise projection would mean disaster internationally for coastal developments, cities and communities, but it will be even more catastrophic for countries like Barbados, she said.
“Presently rising sea levels impact the freshwater held in coastal aquifers through saline intrusion. This is particularly severe in the northern parishes of St Peter and St Lucy whereby it further diminishes Barbados’ scarce portable water availability. What is most concerning is that water supply wells, when contaminated with salt water, are not easily recoverable. In addition, there are public health questions related to the long-term consumption of progressively salted water,” Dr Cumberbatch said.
She pointed out that the steady depletion of natural water resources caused by climate change and increased consumer demand has increasingly placed significant pressure on Barbados’ ability to reliably meet basic human water supply. In response to water availability challenges, she contended that it is for this reason that Barbados must explore new options for topping up its potable water supply beyond small-scale desalination. The health official suggested that wastewater reuse must be seen as a viable strategy to augment the water supply.
Last November, Minister of Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams revealed that Government was moving towards building a tertiary sewage treatment plant on the south coast, as a matter of priority over the next 18 months. Little has been said of the project in recent times, but it is expected that the product of the tertiary plant can be reused at a limited level to supplement the water supply.
But Dr Cumberbatch noted that wastewater reuse brings its own health challenges which the relevant authorities must adequately anticipate and prepare for.
“The challenges posed by climate variability and climate change, dictate that wastewater reuse is therefore a real and imminent water augmentation option that must be and is presently being explored at the national policy level,” she said. “Unfortunately, water reuse also brings significant public health concerns that the health sector must both anticipate and build institutional capacity for effective regulation.”
Declaring that time was not on Barbados’ side, Dr Cumberbatch stressed that Government must take a frontal approach to building national adaptation and resilience capacity for the health sector. She insisted that the focus must therefore be placed on mainstreaming climate change adaptation and water quality surveillance plans as routine operations in order to ensure effective resilience and response to most climate and weather-driven events and conditions.
6 Replies to “Climate change ‘water threat’”
Barbados is the 15th most water scare country in the world I wonder which country is in front of us umm haiti , Russia I assume no that’s a continent damn why these people lecture
If water is so scarce then, are certain big hotels, viilas and guest houses using it to fill their pools and to water their lawns etc? You all in government should ensure all these places are fitted with working water tanks system for their irrigation at their expense. Also at All business places included both government and private it should be mandatory that all use water tanks for certain use
Allowing Sandals to build units with private pools is not helping the situation. On the sea with three pools,isn’t that enough? Catering to first world greed is ridiculous in Barbados, wastage of resources should be banned everywhere.
Hmm i wonder what ever happened to the plans to build more desalination plants?
Here we go again climate change, the big excuse for our politicians…….The big excuse we depend on rain to replenish our 50 year old wells and when the rain comes ,do we harvest any of the rain….
When last has our government sunk new wells to find water…..
Our real problems ,governments in Barbados in the past 5 decades, has done nothing about the country infrastructure…….
My take , you have 1 tank of water for 10 houses, all is well,, but you then build ten more houses to share the tank and 10 more,, but you haven’t replenished and upgraded the water system , nothing to do with climate change…….
This is the same as many areas in Barbados flooding , when they are heavy down pours..
All the land is being taken for house ,roads so where do the rainwater go, unless we have under grown storm drainage schemes, getting this water into the sea , they will always be flooding……….
We in Barbados, must stop waiting for people from foreign lands to come and sort the problems , on our little island , we must do for ourselves………
Where I am the City said they are loosing money from faulty out of date water meters so they will install NEW ones.
Water bill is sent out every 2 months, so some people water bill went from $80.00 to $260.00 for the same 2 month period.
Here they are very serious, you house will be auction off for a unpaid water bill.