As the country continues to battle a severe drought, the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) has turned to Ionics Freshwater Limited to increase its water pumping capacity by 50 per cent.
Additionally, Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams today revealed that a new pumping station has been commissioned in St James to help carry water to the dry taps of Barbadians in the northern parishes.
During a press conference at his Country Road, St Michael headquarters this morning, Abrahams admitted that the BWA was grappling with drought conditions, which have led to several water outages across the island.
And with a forecast for lower than average rainfall for the remainder of the year, the Minister disclosed that the prohibition period which was scheduled to end next month had now been extended to November 30.
He acknowledged that the island-wide water outages being experienced were as a result of aging infrastructure, a lack of maintenance and the prolonged drought, which had served to form an “a perfect storm”.
Abrahams said he was especially disheartened to hear about the complaints from Barbadians regarding the regular outages and the level of discomfort they were causing.
He revealed that the state-owned entity had joined forces with Ionics to help provide a better service to households.
“To address the water issues and the water shortages we have had to commission some more water from Ionics’ desalination plant. So Ionics is now supplying an increased amount of water into our system,” Abrahams said.
“This started a couple of months ago, but it is not a matter of simply flicking a switch. Infrastructure had to be put in place to get the water from Ionics to where it needs to go. We had to change certain valves, we had to employ and install certain pumps [and] we had to upgrade pumping stations.
“If Ionics down Spring Garden produces twice as much water as it produces that is all well and good, but that water needs to get from Ionics at Spring Garden into the same reservoirs that are being affected and then on to the customers,” the minister added.
Dr. John Mwanza, the technical advisor to the Board, said Ionics was contracted last May.
He said while the existing plant capacity was 27 000 cubic metres per day, or around six million gallons a day.
“[Capacity] has been expanded by an additional 50 per cent so we’re getting an additional three million gallons,” Dr. Mwanza revealed.
Minister Abrahams said the newly commissioned pumping station at Trents, St James would help in pumping some of that water to several communities including Kewland, Redman’s Village, Melrose, and Welches in St Thomas; White Hill and Mose Bottom in St Andrew and Chimborazo, Lammings Housing Area, Braggs Hill, Sugar Hill and Spa Hill in St Joseph.
However, he warned the BWA was expecting bursts with the increased water being pumped through aging pipes.
“This station will improve the volume of water flowing to the taps of residents along Highway 2A…Now we are commissioning this today, this is at the end of a long period of installation and testing and retesting and trying to balance so from today that water is going to go in the system with the intent of alleviating the areas I just mentioned.
“I just want to warn the public [that] if you start to send more water down old pipes, the pipes are going to burst. We expect that we are going to have some bursts in the initial phases as we try to rebalance the water,” Abrahams said.
He also disclosed that four new pumps would be made available to handle the added capacity.
At the press conference, the minister also gave his assurance that the BWA’s Customer Service department would be improved.
Abrahams said it had been brought to his attention that some persons had received shoddy treatment from the BWA’s customer service personnel as they sought to report complaints.
He said a four-hour meeting was held yesterday to address the issue and he was confident persons calling into the BWA would see improved customer service.