Ministers have approved the Barbados Water Authority’s (BWA) shift in its policy on applications for connecting to its water supply.
Applicants who are not landowners may now apply for a water connection by paying half of the deposit of $600 for service connection – once the land is not in an area specifically barred from residential development, such as Zone One.
Under the old policy, anyone who is not the titleholder to the land, or who could not provide a letter of consent for the connection from the titleholder, would be unable to receive a connection to the BWA’s water supply.
Government said the rationale for the amendment is to ensure Barbados’ compliance with the treaty under the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Comment Number 15, which speaks to the ‘right to water’, of which Barbados is a signatory, as well as to ensure the continued safe provision of the water distribution system and supply.
The deposit and application for connection are subject to conditions that seek to protect the BWA and landowners. Some of these conditions are: the arrears must not exceed the deposit; any connection made by the BWA would be entirely without prejudice to the rights of the owners of the land, and landowners are not disadvantaged in the process. Owners may have the opportunity to object to the installation.
Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams declared: “Anybody now can apply for and be granted a water service once they are not in a restricted area.”
He announced the change to the policy after the commissioning of a 381-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system at the Grantley Adams International Airport’s Engineering Department on Wednesday.
Abrahams, the Minister for Water Resources, said: “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.”
This, he declared, was one of the reasons the BWA had been lenient with people with those connections.
He also disclosed that those illegal water connections accounted for a significant portion of the BWA’s non-revenue water. “We have about 40 to 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,” Abrahams said.
The Minister stressed that the illegal connections could pose a risk to those who are connected as well as to the country’s entire water supply.
He said: “In many instances where the illegal connection is done, it is not servicing just one household, it is servicing a number of households or a number of pieces of land, so even from the one source of that connection you might put numerous people at risk.”
Abrahams declared that as a result of the amendment to the water connection policy, there is now no reason why anyone should have illegal connections, and going forward the BWA would be cracking down on people who persist in having illegal connections, as it is a criminal act.
He added that if the Authority needs to, it would enlist the help of the police to crack down on illegal connections.