Residents in Christ Church and St Philip communities served by the Hampton Pumping Station have been warned to brace for a water outage of an indefinite period as Barbados Water Authority (BWA) officials attempt to repair a massive breach affecting one of its 16-inch mains.
The water company’s top brass on Monday revealed a huge swamp at Fairview, Christ Church where the bushy area was filled with “millions” of gallons of water from the leak.
The BWA’s Engineering Director, Charles Leslie acknowledged the water outages that had plagued surrounding communities over the last four days and noted that officials thought they had got to the bottom of issues. But they received the shock of their lives when the water supply levels never returned to normal. The BWA convened a crisis meeting on Sunday where officials sought earnestly to locate a problem.
It was only on Monday morning, that officials found the swamp while conducting distribution checks near Fairview. Now, the entire area will have to be pumped for officials to locate the specific breach.
“We are preparing to work through the night and for crews to be switched out as they become tired,” Leslie told a media conference on-site.
At the time of the briefing, a three-inch pump was being used to remove the water and the Ministry of Public Works had been asked to provide a six-inch pump to aid in the effort.
Among the affected areas are Kingsland, Durants, and Newton, all in Christ Church which had already started experiencing problems.
According to BWA General Manager Keithroy Halliday, the job of clearing the area and pumping the water alone would take at least another 12 hours. He added that all of the authority’s tankers had been placed on standby.
“This is actually the worst burst I have ever seen and it is actually complicated by the fact that it’s in a basin…it was not an easy find and it took a little while, but thankfully, our water leak detection guys were able to locate the area,” he explained.
He then turned his attention to residents in surrounding areas encouraging them to store as much water as quickly as they can noting that all areas serviced by the Hampton station would be affected.
Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams meanwhile defended the BWA’s management of the situation declaring: “This was not something that we could find. This is deep underground and we only knew this was an issue after we had restored everything else and the system did not come back up to normal. This was not a situation that was overlooked or ignored.”
He also explained that water would need to be completely shut off to allow all of the water to be pumped from the area.
He also told reporters that with the country’s aging pipes, such problems are likely to continue to occur as the Government simply does not have the $2.5 billion needed to replace all 2500 kilometres of mains which make up the country’s water system.