One day after it was revealed that four illegal water connections were found on the premises of the now condemned Liquidation Centre, Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams says the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) will be cracking down on persons and companies who steal water.
This morning Abrahams told Barbados TODAY that while he was not prepared to comment on the findings in the Bay Street building owned by Asha Mrs Ram Mirchandani, the issue of illegal water connections is a festering thorn in the side of the BWA.
He noted that it has been the BWA’s policy in the past to show leniency to offenders, but this approach may soon change, and more muscular methods would be adopted.
“We keep finding illegal water connections and we have been very decent with these people up to now. We have back-billed some of these persons for what they would have used but there has been no real prosecution taking place. I expect the Barbados Water Authority to start cracking down in a major way on people who persist in this behavior and if it has to involve the police then it has to involve the police because it is a criminal action,” said Abrahams, who made it clear that he was putting both commercial and residential offenders on notice.
The Minister pointed out, “In the past if you didn’t have a title deed to the land or didn’t get permission from the landlord, you couldn’t get a water connection. So, there were some people who did what they thought they had to do in order to get water into their house for basic sanitary needs. The policy has now changed and anybody who is living on a piece of land can now apply for a water service, so there is no reason now to have an illegal water connection.”
Noting that the issue of illegal water connections was quite a widespread problem, the Minister told Barbados TODAY that while it is well known that the state-owned water company is unable to account for 40 per cent of the water it pumps, many may not be aware that burst pipes and illegal water connections are the main culprits.
“We have an issue with illegal water connections, and it accounts for a significant portion of our non-revenue water. We have about 40-60 per cent of our water that we can’t account for and while a significant amount is due to breakages in the system, a large amount is also as a result of illegal connections,” he said.
Abrahams also explained that these illegal connections can pose a health risk to the water supply, as some of them were done in a very haphazard fashion and could allow for dangerous bacteria to enter and compromise the system.
“It is not just simply connecting to the system and people who take it upon themselves to do these illegal connections are not just putting themselves at risk, they put our water supply at risk. If your connection is not a sound one or it is not properly done and stuff infiltrates the system because of the connection that you have made, then you are putting other people at risk. In many cases these connections are not just servicing one household, so that one source may put numerous people at risk,” he stressed.
Last night Attorney General Dale Marshall informed the country that the Liquidation Centre, which has been compulsorily
acquired by Government and is the subject of a legal battle, that the Water Authority discovered several illegal connections to the water mains there. He also revealed that the premises are vermin-infested and four Government agencies have condemned the warehouse as a fire hazard and a serious threat to humans. [email protected]