The drought conditions plaguing Barbados have resulted in the shutdown of the Bowmanston Pumping Station in St John.
And unless there is more than usual rainfall this hurricane season, the prolonged drought would see residents in that parish, as well as St George, St Thomas and St Joseph experiencing water shortages.
The dire situation was explained by Acting General Manager of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) Dr John Mwansa this morning, after leading the media through a tour of the Bowmanston 269-foot aquifer. That tour revealed extremely low water levels.
In a press briefing shortly after, Dr Mwansa said those levels – 15-20 feet lower than the last check in November 2019 – led to the pumping station being shutdown at around 11:50 a.m. today.
The station usually pumps between 1.5 million and 2 million gallons of water per day.
“When we say we have stopped pumping, it is not by choice. It is based on the water level available. If we continue to run those pumps they will get damaged. Right now, both booster pumps have been shut off. There is no pumping going on from Bowmanston,” Dr Mwansa explained.
“Areas that are supplied by Bowmanston – you are talking about Sherbourne going down to Massiah Street, District C, Cherry Grove going down to Ellerton, St George – will start suffering from water outages. Bowmanston pumps into two reservoirs. It pumps water into the Bowmanston reservoir and then it pumps water into the Golden Ridge reservoir and from Golden Ridge that water is pumped to Castle Grant. So, when Bowmanston is not pumping at all, then also those people in St Joseph and St Thomas who are serviced by Castle Grant will also be impacted.”
Dr Mwansa said he was hopeful that with an above average hurricane season predicted, there would be frequent rainfall.
However, he cautioned, if the drought conditions continued, the situation would be exacerbated.
He said as a possible solution, the BWA was looking to divert water from Vineyard, St Philip.
Dr Mwansa explained this would mean new pipelines would have to be laid from Vineyard to Bowmanston.
He added that a new reservoir was being constructed at Mount Pleasant, St Philip, and two booster stations would also be built to help pump water from both there and Vineyard to supply the affected areas.
Those works are expected to be completed by December with multiple contractors on the job.
“If we don’t get any rains, then this condition here at Bowmanston will persist. But part of what we are doing is trying to bring in water from somewhere else to help supplement the supplies in this area,” Dr Mwansa said.
“Generally, the peak of the hurricane season is the period during which we get most of our groundwater return, and that is September to November. You could count the number of days we’ve had rain in June on one hand and the same has been happening in July.”
He said the BWA was also exploring the option of building a desalination plant to help address the outages.
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