Barbados is getting help from two water-rich CARICOM nations to boost its water supply which is currently under severe pressure due to inordinate demand for the volcanic ash clean-up that comes at the height of the dry season, the Prime Minister told the nation Wednesday night.
Speaking on a number of issues including the chronic shortage of water to residents of northern Barbados, she disclosed that a shipment of bottled water arrived here this week from Guyana and that arrangements are in the pipeline to buy water from Dominica until a project to pump water from St Philip to central and eastern Barbados is ready.
Mottley announced: “Our brothers and sisters in Guyana have sent up… and I believe it came in today or yesterday and will be dispatched this weekend to households. In addition to that, we are in the middle of concluding arrangements with the government of Dominica for the purchase of water on a weekly basis…two to two-and-a-half million gallons a week until such time as we can complete the reservoir and the pump station with Vineyard and Castle Grant being serviced with the appropriate water coming through Golden Ridge from the Vineyard point.”
Water would be taken from Groves, St George, where a well can supply another two million gallons, she added.
“But until such time as I said that work finishes, which we expect in the near future, and certainly within the next three months that that will be completed, then we can hopefully discontinue these kinds of temporary and transient means of providing water to the people of St Joseph and to the people of surrounding areas… in Boscobelle, they have also had some issues,” Mottley said.
The PM noted that the Hope Desalination Plant in St Lucy coming back online should ease the water supply difficulties as the volume of water would increase.
“We are also hoping to have a temporary solution to supplement in St Lucy what we are doing in the north of the island,” she added.
The Prime Minister appealed to Barbadians, particularly those who are being most impacted by the water problems to have patience with the Government, explaining that this is not an easy exercise.
Mottley declared that just as her Government has delivered on promises to solve the sewage problem on the south coast and shortages of garbage collection trucks and Transport Board buses, it will also come through for water.
She revealed that on Monday, she held a six-hour meeting with the Barbados Water Authority (BWA), the trade unions and all the major private sector stakeholders involved in the allied aspects of water, its supply and storage.
The Prime Minister said a number of measures had been settled upon, but declined to give details. She would only say her administration is “dealing with the water issue”.
“But with the best will in the world with a [twinkling] of my nose, will not give me the powers of Elizabeth in order to be able to command that trenches are immediately dug from Vineyard to Mount Pleasant and through to Golden Ridge and through to Castle Grant to be able to ensure that either new mains or existing mains are replaced in order to guarantee supply to Castle Grant,” declared the Prime Minister.
“With the best will in the world, we are waiting now to start mains that have to go from St Stephens Hill to Lodge Hill, which will allow ultimately for water to go into the mains to go to Shop Hill, such that the people of Bagatelle and Kew Land and other areas will get water. Of course, Castle Grant supplies the majority of St Joseph and a few other surrounding parishes.”
She said decisions have been made regarding the temporary desalination plant and the renegotiations of the contractual terms for the permanent plant as well. The Prime Minister promised to report back to the country once those talks are concluded.
“Might I say, we have insisted that the Water Authority increase the level of delivery of water and ensure that the tanks that are there are all appropriately serviced and that more tanks are put into the field, so that those communities that have been without can be immediately serviced recognizing that the permanent solutions are in the near future ahead of us,” Mottley told Barbadians.
She also said the Government had asked the water authority to increase the fleet of tankers it had already bought to better address water delivery, bearing in mind the low reservoir levels and volcano ashfall.
Mottley added: “We have also asked [BWA] to recognize that they have to have better communication with communities with respect to what is being provided, when and how. My office has been pressed into service with being able to help with that matter. I continue to get daily reports recognising that the first set of trucks would probably not get here until the end of May.
“We are also trying to come up with a clear framework for the use of non-potable water, recognising that many of the activities and certainly in the cleaning up of the roads and in the cleaning up of public spaces, the Government has been utilizing non-potable water for the most times…that is the instructions given to the Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Housing as they undertake the cleaning up…and I would imagine obviously in the school system as well.”