The Barbados Water Authority (BWA) has a $45 million fix to get water flowing to the taps of St John residents.
However, they may have to wait until January next year for relief.
The bittersweet news was delivered by the BWA’s Acting General Manager Dr John Mwanza and Director of Engineering Charles Leslie during a town hall meeting last night in Gall Hill, St John.
Speaking to the boisterous crowd that gathered at the community centre, Leslie said the majority of the money would be spent on main replacements.
He revealed that the BWA had already replaced 300 metres of mains from Coach Hill to Colleton and 2 600 metres of mains from Gall Hill to Coach Hill, along with replacing mains in Welch Town.
Leslie said the BWA would soon commence replacing mains at Church View towards Newcastle.
In an effort to address the water outages, he said they would also be pumping water from Vineyard and other locations to St John, upgrading the desalination plant at Spring Garden and pumping stations.
“The solutions to the problems at these higher elevations are multi-pronged. Our network is aged, some of our mains are very old and we have to replace those. We have been looking at this in stages so we have been looking at the replacement of our mains, we’ve been looking at the increasing of booster stations and we have been doing it in a staged process,” Leslie explained.
“Our approach is that we have to do the replacement of the mains so that when we move additional water into the system that water is not lost through leaking in those systems.
“In total, all of the mains replacement we are doing in this St George and St John area, we are going to be looking at approximately $45 million in terms of main upgrades. In terms of the standby generators we have installed we are looking at about $500 000, and in terms of the pumping station upgrades at Lancaster, Apes Hill and Lazaretto, we are looking at about $1.2 million. So, in total, to address these problems up here, we are going to be spending in excess of $45 million,” he added.
Mwanza told the frustrated residents there was no easy fix to the situation.
And while he asked them to bear with the BWA as they carried out their work, he told them they would receive relief between December this year and January 2021.
He said this was mainly due to the numerous processes that had to be carried out before the implementation stage was reached.
The acting general manager said the only work the BWA could undertake without planning permission was the installation of water mains, while loans from international financial agencies required environmental impact studies, social impact studies and feasibility studies to be done.
“There is no magic wand. I will not sit here and tell you the impossible. For us to transfer water from Vineyard into St John, it is a five to six-month project, so we will get that water here by December/January. None of these solutions can be done by just waking up one night and starting work,” he said.
“For example, for us to put up the tank that we are looking to put up at Mount Pleasant, one of the things we have to do is conduct geotechnical studies to ensure that the ground at that location can carry the weight for the tank that is going to be placed there. In addition, we need to get Town and Country Planning approval for us to construct the tanks or any pumping stations.
“For the Vineyard project we actually now have money in hand and we have done the majority of the preliminary work. We had meetings with contractors to cut the trenches last week and we have agreed on the cost of that trenching and we are going to assign five or six contractors in order to expedite the process…. You have to bear with us because we understand the problems you are going through,” Mwanza pleaded. [email protected]
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