President of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Verla DePeiza on Monday urged the Government to seriously pursue water desalination as a meaningful solution over the short, medium and long term for the residents of St. Lucy, whose votes she intends to seek as a candidate in the next general election.
DePeiza declared St Lucy folk have been forced to contend with dirty water or none at all for years.
She made the appeal while delivering cases of potable water to the constituency’s residents a little over a week after expressing her desire to represent them in Parliament.
She was on tour with Paul Gibson, former Deputy Police Comissioner Morgan Greaves and some members of the young Dems.
The issues affecting St. Lucy are representative of issues affecting others in numerous parts of rural Barbados.
Particularly high on the DLP leader’s agenda is the restoration of the desalination plant at Hope, St. Lucy that was established under the last DLP administration but was later decommissioned.
“Whatever the issue is with it, we need to know the timeframe for fixing it… We also need to have solutions and I believe those were in train in relation to the eastern side [of St Lucy]. Hope is a little more northern and although Hope feeds some elements of Pie Corner, we need to have more desal plants,” the DLP President told Barbados TODAY whilst near Date Tree Hill.
“We are surrounded by water and if we reach the point where our groundwater no longer meets our demand, then we need to be looking at our next best source, which is our saltwater. Use the desal plant, get water flowing through taps, because I think that is very critical, not just in terms of how you drink and wash your clothes, but just flushing a toilet. Basic needs and hygiene require water so that to my mind is the most pressing issue, that we get water flowing through taps on a consistent basis.”
DePeiza rubbed shoulders with residents from Chance Hall, Pie Corner, Josey Hill and Peterses. Many of the residents told Barbados TODAY they had water on Monday evening, but it was a murky, brownish colour that in their judgement was unsafe for drinking.
The situation is particularly frustrating for elderly people living in places where water tankers are unable to go and where it is difficult to lug buckets from the main road to their homes.
DePeiza added that after protests from various groups had seemingly gone in vain, it was important that residents be given a timeframe within which the issues will be addressed.
She declared: “They are feeling the frustration. They are not a boisterous people, so you will not see them acting out, but they speak to you of their frustration where they have to go by relatives to fetch water when the tanks are empty or if they come home and the water tanker has passed and they are not there.
“They speak to you of having to take their white clothes in particular by relatives who live elsewhere to get them washed and all of those are inconveniences in a 21st century environment. So they have the challenges and they are feeling the frustration and it is time to speak solutions now.
“But I think the frustration for most is not getting water through their taps. We in the Democratic Labour Party can’t do anything about that except agitate, but what we can do in some small measure is relieve the suffering by bringing water to them.
“We are touching base at different points to make sure that those who don’t have water, get water. We have also been checking the tanks as well to see if they are filled. What I usually do as I am out canvassing, is that if a tank needs water, I would call the number and tell the [Barbados Water Authority] that tank number ‘x’ needs to be filled and they usually respond.”
Among those on the receiving end of DePeiza’s drive was Jabar Rock, who described the situation as “dread” whilst presenting the Barbados TODAY team with a cup of murky water that he said came from his tank.
He said: “Drinking water is a problem because you can’t drink water out of the ‘tank’. If you are unemployed like me, what will you drink? It’s hard and there really isn’t much that you can do about it either.
“We are grateful for all of the water we can get, no lie. Sometimes the water does be brown, sometimes it does be orange and other times it does be colours you cannot even imagine.” ([email protected])