Lawmakers were on Tuesday given a report card on Government’s progress in resolving the lack of a consistent water supply in some rural areas and the problem of too much water in all the wrong places during heavy rainfall on a day of severe flooding in western Barbados.
St. Joseph, St. John and some parts of St. Peter and St. Thomas are now experiencing a regular and consistent supply of water from their taps based on the Barbados Water Authority’s (BWA) recent work, Minister of Transport, Works and Water Resources Ian Gooding-Edghill declared.
As he introduced a resolution of $39 million to address various issues within his ministry, of which $10 million is earmarked for the BWA, Gooding-Edghill outlined some of the work the state water utility is undertaking.
“We are spending the money on reservoirs like Golden Ridge, Providence, Shop Hill, Half Acre, and Castle Grant, among others,” he said. “We will also be building four tanks at Mount Stepney, Ellerton, Indian Ground and Half Acre, and we have already completed similar tanks at Boscobelle, Lodge Hill and Fort George Heights.
“Now, when we came to office we were plagued with people complaining about the fact they were getting no water, primarily in St. Joseph, St. John and some parts of St. Thomas, but I am pleased to report that I spoke to the Chairman of the BWA this morning, and he told me that people in the highest parts of St. Joseph, like Chimborazo and Cotton Tower, were getting a regular and consistent water supply, and the same in Shop Hill, Edghill, Applewhaites and Bridgefield in St. Thomas.”
He added that two desalination plants were coming on stream for the north, as well as two extra water tanks at Apes Hill in St. James, 1.5 million gallon tanks at Castle Grant and Rising Sun, and a 600,000 gallon tank at Walkers in St. Andrew.
On the subject of drainage, Gooding-Edghill stated that the ministry was seeking $600,000 to acquire more pumps as well as to create new retention ponds into which excessive water could flow during heavy rainfall.
St. James North MP Edmund Hinkson called for greater attention to be paid to drainage in the Weston area in his constituency following the heaviest flooding there in 26 years.
He told the House: “I just visited Weston, and the residents told me that after the rain today they experienced the worst flooding they had seen since 1995 when the calypsonian the Great Carew lost his life.
“The bridge at the end of the gully is about to fall in and that will create even more trouble. It needs reinforcing, because it is too weak to contain all the water and debris that comes from all the way up in St. Thomas and St. Andrew, and if that collapses it will be even more trouble.”
The water resources minister gave an assurance that the ministry had plans in place to deal with Weston and some of the other areas Hinkson identified that were prone to flooding, such as Sion Hill and Trents.
Gooding-Edghill said: “At Sion Hill, we will excavate and shape the water course and link it to the culvert on Highway 1, but we may have to acquire land for that purpose. Trents is challenging, and while we will clean the wells, we will have to look at the topographical map and see how the water flows, and then the engineers can work from there to see how they can mitigate the flooding in that area. We have also identified potential locations for French drains along Trents Hill, which can divert the water into retention ponds.”
He said: “Notwithstanding the clean up campaign, there are areas that will continue to flood, and we have to assign our pump teams to go out, so we are looking to obtain bigger pumps, that is, with six, eight and ten-inch diameters, especially since with climate change rainfall events are getting more severe. For example, last week we had five inches of rain in just seven hours.
“We are also identifying new areas in which to place retention ponds, which have been helpful so far in upstream areas, and the water flows into the aquifers naturally from these. Later on, we should consider lining these areas and creating dams so the water can be used for agricultural purposes.”
St. Peter MP Colin Jordan declared he was particularly pleased with how some of the remedial measures had mitigated flooding in some areas of the parish.
He said: “Speightstown is known for flooding, but so far this year, with all the heavy rain we have had, whether ordinary rainfall as well as during the freak storm and the hurricane, it appears that the retention ponds done upstream from Speightstown have worked well.
“The Diamond Corner pond takes water from Portland and Oxford, and has reduced the water going between Heywoods and Six Mens. Work in Ashton Hall as well as Sailor Gully, and the ponds in the Whim gully, have also reduced the amount of water going into Speightstown.” (DH)