Another round of water restrictions is coming as Barbados remains in a drought, and Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams has served notice that residents who fail to comply will be prosecuted.
He issued the warning today, saying that the country has had less rainfall than expected since the start of the year and the next prohibition notice would be even more stringent.
“The projections are, at best, we will have a dry season. So if there is already a water deficit coming out of the rainy season and we will have a dry season, then it is going to be difficult for the rest of the year,” Abrahams told reporters following a tour of the Barbados Bottling Company Ltd (BBC) plant in Newton, Christ Church.
“We are still in a drought situation. We are still water scarce while the demand for water is great. So you can look out for the actual announcement of the prohibition and the terms of it. I will say that whereas last time we banked largely on the good will of people, the situation is more serious now and we are going to be looking to enforce that prohibition fully.”
Although noting that authorities usually avoided implementing a prohibition notice during the Christmas period and the busy winter tourist season, which runs from the beginning of December to the end of April, Abrahams said given the low water levels in the aquifers, it could not be avoided.
“Things being what they are, the water situation being what it is, it is necessary now for us to reintroduce a prohibition,” he said.
The last prohibition notice from the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) took effect from June 10, 2019 until August 31, 2019 before being extended to the end of November last year.
It barred the use of potable water for irrigation or watering of gardens, lawns and grounds by hose or sprinkle system; filling or supplying tanks, ponds, baths or swimming pools other than dipping tanks for cattle, domestic baths not exceeding 120 litres or 32 gallons, and elevated reserve tanks not exceeding 221 gallons.
It also prohibited the use of water to wash roadways, pavements, paths, garages, outrooms or vehicles by hose and washing windows and building exteriors.
The penalty for disobeying the notice is a fine of $500 and in default of payment, imprisonment for one month.
Pointing out that the last prohibition was “quite effective”, the Minister explained that there were several residents who called the ministry and the BWA to report those who were using the commodity indiscriminately.
However, he said, as far as he was aware no one was prosecuted during the last prohibition period.
“Usually a phone call or visit yielded the result we wanted . . . Everybody is being affected one way or the other. So I think for the most part Barbadians understand what we are going through and the challenges the Barbados Water Authority is faced with in respect to the delivery and distribution of water. So it was not necessary to charge anybody the last time,” he explained.
However, Abrahams made it clear that when the next prohibition order is issued, residents who violate it will not be as lucky.
“Chances are this time around the prohibitions are going to be a little bit more stringent. We now don’t have the latitude with the water situation being what it is, to depend on the good will of people. So we are hoping that everybody toes the line and there is no need to take it any further, but the Government and the Water Authority will do what they have to in order to secure the water supply for the benefit of Barbados,” he warned.
The Minister was not in a position to say when the new notice would take effect, but said once the BWA decided on what form it would take then it would be issued.
However, he noted that Cabinet had already given the approval to his Ministry’s request to reintroduce the prohibition measures.