Residents at Pot House, St John are frustrated that it has now been weeks since they last saw water running from their taps at a time when health authorities are advising them to wash their hands frequently to stop the spread of COVID-19 on the island.
A number of residents told Barbados TODAY that while the Barbados Water Authority’s (BWA) water tankers have been bringing water to the area they want to have it flowing from their taps even if it is on a restricted basis.
The residents lamented that they could not understand why they were experiencing dry taps since December while neighbouring districts were not having water issues.
Marcia Ashby said the upsetting situation has left her unable to efficiently carry out her household chores or feed her pigs properly.
“This is nine days now no water running from the taps. When the water truck come I got to hop across here and hop across there because I got a problem with my heel and I live down in the back. Sometimes you meet a good driver and you got to beg him to come down here so that you wouldn’t have to pull the water from all up there.
“Sometimes when they do come them hurrying you telling you that they have to go this and that place and you can’t get the water. And then when the month come the water authority sending a water bill at my place,” Ashby said.
Meanwhile, her daughter Tammy said it was tiring hearing officials at the BWA explaining that the reason for the area experiencing water outages is a result of reservoirs at the Bowmanston Pumping Station being low, when she was aware that residents in nearby districts are not having a similar experience.
“But how the reservoirs could be low and everybody around us getting water and it is only Pot House stretch that not getting water? All now Sargeant Street got water and it running hard, Coach Hill got water and it running. They are saying that you going through a drought, no rain ain’t falling, reservoirs low and we can understand that.
“But what I don’t understand is how in this same drought everyone else is getting water for seven to eight hours a day and they can wash, cook, brush their teeth, bathe, and do whatever they have to do but we are not getting any.
“All they are saying is Bowmanston is low or they would send someone to investigate but no one ever comes. And if we get one water truck a day we are lucky. They send the water trucks to the places that have water and leave us that don’t have without,” Tammy said.
She also indicated that she was concerned that at a time when Barbadians are supposed to be practicing good hygiene, including washing their hands, residents at Pot House are unable to do so consistently due to limited access to water.
“You can’t wash your hands properly. Everytime you leave home and come back you can’t wash the clothes and you can’t put Chlorox on your skin like that and then sanitiser scarce. So you should be washing your hands. I really don’t understand this situation,” he said.
Marlene Olton who has been living in the area since 1970 said while she understood that the reservoirs may be low at this time, all she is asking officials at the BWA to do is to allow Pot House residents to get water from their taps at least three times a week.
“This is so upsetting. We the residents of Pot House, St John deserve water too because we are humans like everybody else,” Olton said.
A press release from the BWA stated that the authority understands and is empathises with the plight of the residents of several parishes who have not been receiving pipe borne water on a consistent basis.
In responding to the queries of angry residents of Sherbourne, St John, Keithroy Halliday, General Manager of the BWA explained that he fully understands and appreciates the frustration of the residents notwithstanding the BWA’s desire to meet the needs of those parishes.
“The BWA is not in a position to do so as indicated in the recent Estimates. The Barbados Water Authority is not in a financial position to provide this nation with what they deserve being pipe-borne water.
“Notwithstanding the Authority’s desire to do all that we can at this point in time the best that we can do is to provide these residents with water via the deployment of our water tankers, the filling of existing community tanks and a commitment for the continued deployment of additional community tanks.”
Halliday explained that pre COVID-19, the water levels in the reservoirs especially those at Bowmanston, Half Acre, Lamberts, Golden Ridge and Boscobelle were reading extremely low.
“The current severe Caribbean-wide drought and our aged pipe system sometimes severely impacts our ability to supply pipe-borne water to some districts,” Halliday said.
The release said Halliday’s explanation about the water situation on the island was reiterated and confirmed by Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley during her recent address on March 20.
Halliday said the BWA is acutely aware of the issues confronting the nation as the authority’s employees and their families are also residents of these hard hit areas.
“The BWA is advising all Barbadians that in the current situation especially given that we are facing COVID-19 that we have a duty to store water going forward.”
Alex Ifill, Water Quality Specialist with the BWA confirmed that five gallons of water can be disinfected with two capfuls of ordinary unscented bleach and once properly secured and stored, can last for three to five days.
“Mr Ifill recommended that Barbadians store at least five gallons of water per day, per person, per household as part of their emergency supply. Please remember to refill water as you use it. The Barbados Water Authority wishes to remind the public that its current tanker fleet consists of seven tankers of which, all but one, carries 1,200 gallons of water and as such the BWA shall not be filling personal tanks,” the release stated.
Further, in light of COVID-19 and in an effort to assist Government and the people of Barbados, the BWA is advising that when tankers visit areas that are without water, residents are to place their buckets or receptacles for collecting water two feet away from the tankers and owners are to step a further four feet away.
The press release indicated that residents’ failure to follow the guidelines shall result in the tanker drivers complying with the instructions of management and handed down by the Board of Directors, to move on to another area in need of water.
“In the circumstances, the Barbados Water Authority is asking the public to assist them to provide vulnerable persons with the communities with water.”
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