After a near three-year onslaught from untreated sewage prior to the construction of the new temporary outfall last December, the ecosystem of Barbados’ major wetland, the Graeme Hall Swamp, has almost returned to normalcy.
This revelation was made by Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Wilfred Abrahams, who told Barbados TODAY that Government has done considerable rehabilitation of the swamp and it was now left up to nature to take its course.
“The rehabilitation of Graeme Hall is going really well. I would advise anyone to go down there and see for themselves because we all know what it used to look like. The fish are back, the birds are back, everything is back to how it was. There is no more smell and the swamp is being properly maintained,” said Abrahams.
The minister further explained that in their efforts to rehabilitate the wetland, it was important that a balance was struck between man-made help and nature’s propensity to heal itself.
“We are doing all we can do to get the swamp back up but the problem is that you can over-engineer things in an ecosystem. So, we have to be careful sending things in there to excavate. There are settled solids, so the swamp is not as deep as it was before. We could go in with an excavator and dig it out or we could wait for the rains and let the swamp naturally flush itself out,” he said.
The ecological attraction came under threat during the worsening sewage crisis on the south coast. Some business owners and residents impacted by the spills took matters into their own hands and were resorting to dumping the effluent, which had pooled in their backyards for months, into the swamp.
In addition, with blockages in the lines leading to the now decommissioned Needham’s Point system, the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) was forced to temporarily mitigate the effluent spilling onto the streets of the south coast, by redirecting the sewage outflow through the canals of the swamp and into the sea. This had also resulted in the closure of Worthing Beach for several months.
Following a visit to the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary a week after the Barbados Labour Party’s victory at the polls last May, Prime Minister Mia Mottley promised to allocate resources to rejuvenate the swamp immediately after a fix was found for the sewage crisis.
In his recent interview with Barbados TODAY, Abrahams explained that while Government has kept its promise, the average Barbadian has a part to play in seeing the rehabilitation process through. In making this point, the minister pointed out that recent efforts to replenish fish stocks are being undermined by persons fishing in the swamp.
“The fish were reintroduced as part of the ecosystem of the swamp to keep down mosquitoes. So, if people go and catch the fish before they have a chance to spawn, then the mosquito issue is going to come back. We are working hard to restore balance to the ecosystem and the fact that fish are in there alive and well means that water levels are coming back to where they were, so, we can’t have people tampering with what we are doing,” stressed Abrahams.