By Emmanuel Joseph
Concerned about the heavy water use in recent days, the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) could soon be implementing new, stricter measures, to prohibit the indiscriminate use of the potable commodity, warns General Manager Keithroy Halliday.
He said the matter came up for discussion today by the BWA’s management team
but further consideration was deferred until tomorrow.
“We did look at it today and determined we didn’t need to do it. Tomorrow we will look at it again and see where we are. The challenge we had was that we had burst mains so that would have restricted us,” the water works head told Barbados TODAY.
“Because of the continued high demand, there are a number of areas which traditionally would never have seen deficits that are now experiencing water outages so tankers are out there fighting furiously to attend to all of the needs.
“We are topping up community tanks, we are topping up residents’ tanks, we are trying to deal with all of the residential problems…we are trying to ensure we have enough water in the pipes when managing through caution. We are trying to do the best that we can,” Halliday declared.
Halliday was speaking Wednesday night against the backdrop of a record amount of drinking water being used by consumers to wash down the ash which is being dumped on the island by the La Soufriere Volcano in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The BWA general manager said while the utility company continues to appeal to “the good conscience and civility” of Barbadians to conserve water, he acknowledged that there a legitimate demand for the precious commodity.
“We are not stopping the use of water, we are just saying to everyone, just be aware and be conscious.
“We can’t have a hose unrestrained washing down a house. You need to do strategic cleaning…and as time elapses or goes forward, we do some of the other types of cleaning.
“It may not make sense to do a whole cleaning. We are all engaged in a national clean-up for health and safety and to get the ash out of the way. But it isn’t every single area you would be able to clean one time. Over a period of time you are going to keep going back.
“ We are going to have ash in the air for a little while. So it is an immediate sense of urgency for doing what is required now, but it also a medium to long-term process,”
the CEO contended.
Halliday is appealing to consumers to use as much non-potable water as possible including muscle, shovels and sprinkling of water to help clean up the volcanic material.
“Do that as much as you can because this is not an issue of entitlement in the sense that ‘I have water… I pay for it.’ This is an issue that at the collective level, at the national level that says we are all working in this together so we will do what we can to make sure everybody gets a little piece of the pie,” he suggested.
Halliday also expressed concern that in addition to the high demand for water during this time of the ashfall, the pressure on the 150-year old water mains continues to result in burst lines which compounds access to adequate supplies of the commodity to some communities.
“We are at this point where your mains are failing. You are having expansion in the population, you are having developments, you are having more demands on water, not only because of population growth but in terms of how water is being used by both locals and residents. So there is a combination of factors that are stressing
our mains,” he said.
The CEO explained that burst mains will continue to occur until the majority can be replaced.
Meanwhile, he has reported that a team from the BWA was Wednesday working to repair a burst on a section of the 16-inch main in Trents in St. James. Halliday said because of the large size of the main, work was taking a while.
As a result, customers located between Porters and Carlton were expected to experience low water pressure or outages later in the day.
But Halliday reported that repairs to a 12-inch main in Oistins and a four-inch in Ealing Park South in Christ Church have been completed.
The BWA boss also announced that there has been an emergency shutdown of the Hope Desalination Plant in St. Lucy.
He said this plant has been taken out of service to allow for urgent maintenance including the necessary change of filters and membranes in the facility.
Halliday pointed out that the recent ashfall has made it even more critical to clean all
of the infrastructure.
He said that the extensive work being carried out at the Hope is expected to last until Sunday, April 18.
The BWA chief said while the facility is offline, customers in some northern districts will be impacted by the loss of pipe-borne water as some of the authority’s systems in the north experience low water levels.
He promised that the BWA will try its best to assist residents of these areas with water tanker visits in the interim. The authority said however said customers can expect delays due to heavy demand.
The BWA also reminded the public that it has been forced to stop pumping from some of its facilities in the north because of low reservoir levels.