Water will soon be flowing freely from the taps of residents in the northern and eastern parishes of Barbados.
That assurance was today given by Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams who said an already started mains replacement project would eliminate the water shortages being experienced by persons living in St Joseph and St Andrew.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY at the launch of the Water Sector Resilience Nexus for Sustainability in Barbados (WSRN S-Barbados) project this afternoon at the Bowmanston Pumping Station in St John, Abrahams said residents would get relief shortly.
“A major component of this project is mains replacement and protecting the integrity of the water supply and that has a direct relation to the water outages in the northern parishes. So I am glad we have finally got to the start point of this project because this project and the funds being released to do this are going to be used as a lynchpin to provide relief for the northern parishes and we’ve already started some aspects of it,” the Minister said.
“I can’t tell you how soon they will get relief because there are a number of measures that we are doing, but we expect the residents will be seeing relief very, very shortly. It will not be a magical transformation, but we are going to increase the supply to the reservoirs.”
Abrahams said the mains replacement aspect of the project was especially important as Barbados’ water network comprised pipes that were over 150 years old.
He said this resulted in 50 per cent of the water pumped being lost.
“You can do as much as you can do; you can augment the water supply, you can pump more water, you can increase energy saving devices, you can do all those things but if the mains are still leaking in the way they are leaking, we would be wasting time,” Abrahams said.
“So if you think about it, we should technically speaking be able to deliver twice as much water if we had less holes in our mains… One of the problems that you get is that the water supply does not meet those at the end of the line, so the water is used up passing through districts.”
The WSRN S-Barbados project will span just over five years at a cost of US$45.2 million.
It is being funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to the tune of US$27.6 million and an additional US$17.6 million received as in-kind contribution.
The Minister revealed that in an effort to improve the resilience of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) the project would feature several upgrades including a two mega watt photovoltaic system and two mega watt emergency power generating system at the Belle Pumping Station; a two mega watt photovoltaic system at the Hampton Pumping Station and an additional 0.5 mega watt system at Bowmanston which would double its current capacity.
Abrahams said with the BWA being the biggest client of the Barbados Light & Power, it is expected the improvements would reduce its energy expenditure by ten per cent per year.
He also explained that the project would increase Barbados’ water security, while implementing climate resilient actions in the water sector, including a water sector master plan.
Minister Abrahams also revealed that it was Government’s aim to keep water rates on the island as low as possible.
“We Bajans are special people. We have among the cheapest water in the world but we complain bitterly for every cent we pay for it, so a part of our goal is to keep water in Barbados cheap while trying to educate people as to its scarcity,” he said.