Vast acres of land around Barbados could soon be zoned for new use under a new Water Zone and Water Protection and Land Use Zoning policy, Minister of Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams told journalists today.
He said a green paper – a discussion paper before it becomes a formal policy proposal in a white paper – is soon to be drafted on replacing the current groundwater protection policy that dates back to 1964.
The original policy labelled land by water zones 1 to 5 prohibited land usage in certain areas in a bid to protect the island’s groundwater supplies from contamination.
But speaking at a post-Cabinet press briefing this afternoon, Abrahams said that under the revamped policy, new uses could now be found for several large plots of desolate land around the country.
He said there would be a new zoning table from A to E.
Zone A would replace Zone 1 in which no new developments and restricted agriculture would be allowed; B would be a pathogen management zone, likely involving sewering of existing buildings; C would be a chemicals management zone; D would be a recharge controlling zone which encompasses the limestone area; and E would be a non-recharge contributing area, made up principally of the Scotland District.
Abrahams said: “One of the features of our policy is that we no longer look at water zoning in terms of the water table alone. We also have to look at Barbados as one big coastal area and the focus is now on prevention rather than cure.
“One of the spinoffs of this is some areas are freed up for development, so Zone 1 which is the new Zone A, there is about 40 per cent more land area that is not completely excluded from development.
“We are not just looking at a blanket exclusion, we’re practical. Barbados has a finite amount of land area so we have to look at ways in which the land area can be used, even if it is used with conditions.”
The Minister for Water Resources gave an assurance that Barbadians would have a say on the new zoning policy.
He said before it was passed there would be consultation with the general public.
“We are now ready to lay before Parliament the new Water Zone and Water Protection and Land Use Zoning Policy, the green paper [and] when we introduce it to Parliament it will then be dispersed, published and circulated among the wider public.
“We will have consultations on it, we want feedback from as many stakeholders as possible and we want the public to air their views and their concerns.”
Once that was done, Abrahams said, the new policy would then be fine-tuned.
The Minister said Government was also looking to move away from suckwells, typically sunk in backyards to receive waste and wastewater as “it was not the best way to go”.
Government would be looking at new developments to improve building standards across the country, he added.
Abrahams contended that changes would also be coming to the way in which potable water was being used.
“There is going to be a major shift in our perception and treatment of waste water and drinking water…it makes no sense in using that most valuable resource [potable water] for purposes that do not require that standard of water,” he said.