Residents complaining about a lack of adequate water supply from Barbados Water Authority (BWA) water tanks could soon get an ease.
Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams said Government was in the process of acquiring five custom-built water tank trucks that should be on island by the end of April 2020.
He said the trucks were being paid for by grant funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), at a cost of over US$350,000.
The cash-strapped BWA currently has ten operating trucks.
“We have five tankers coming early next year, [between] March and the end of April next year. These things have to be purpose-built,” Abrahams told reporters on Thursday during a media conference at the Ministry of Water Resources on Country Road, St Michael.
An apologetic Abrahams said he understood the challenges being faced by residents as the island continues to witness drought conditions that had been compounded by recent water outages.
He said it was therefore more critical that the BWA has additional water trucks to adequately meet the needs of residents.
He explained that some of the BWA’s current trucks are problem-plagued because they were not built for the “bumpy and rough” roads in Barbados, making it very difficult for them to even get to some areas and critically those areas more in need of water delivery.
“The trucks have to be a certain size to get in certain areas, so you are having problems with a number of the trucks so these [custom-built trucks] have to be spec properly,” he said.
“We have some older trucks that have been working perfectly. So we have gone back to the manufacturer of the older trucks and we have asked them to build some with the same specs for us,” he said, adding that Government was not after a “quick-fix” that would then result in another replacement in the short-term.
He said the BWA’s board was also in the process of sourcing some “stand-in trucks, whether it is by rent, gift or swap, in the interim, from other Caribbean countries that may have some redundancy”.
Without giving details, Abrahams also gave an indication that Government was on the verge of reaching a deal with Innotech, who had provided services to the BWA under a special water tank programme, starting several years ago.
“We are about to close off our negotiations with Innotech that stock up a number of things including the tank programme,” he said.
“As part of the settlement with Innotech, we are going to have access to two desalination plants – one is going to go in St Lucy and the other in the area of Joe’s River – to try to put some more water into St Joseph,” said Abrahams.
However, he made it clear that it was not an ideal situation to rely on majority desalination plants for the island’s water supply since these would cost the country hundreds of millions of dollars per year to operate.
He also pointed out that work was ongoing to get additional water supply from Groves, St George to a new reservoir for storage in Stewart Hill, St John, which will then be used to supply parts of St Andrew and parts of St Joseph.
At the same time, Abrahams is urging residents to install water tanks and store the commodity.
“When we ask you to store water we are not talking about filling up the lemonade jug or the mauby bottle. You need to be thinking of five gallons per person, per day, and you should ideally have a supply for seven days during the hurricane season,” he warned.
“The things we can control we are trying to fix. We are trying to fix pipes. We have ordered more water tanker trucks. We are going to go with the personal tank programmes, but at the end of the day if the rain continues to not fall what happens thereafter is outside of our control,” said Abrahams.
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