The Barbados Water Authority (BWA) is taking careful steps to minimise the potential impact of hurricanes and other climate change-related disasters on citizens’ access to water through the use of alternative energy, reducing the organisation’s carbon footprint by 4.5 megawatts.
During a press conference on Tuesday, officials at the state-owned entity announced a BDS$90 million proposal in collaboration with the Green Climate Fund and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) to build resilience against storm events, climate change disruptions and access to a revolving adaptation facility fund.
Minister in the Ministry of Water Resources Charles Griffith revealed that at the grassroots level of the initiative is a proposal to provide water tanks to 1500 families across the country based on a Cabinet paper to be submitted in the next two weeks.
“This will be done through a needs assessment to ensure that those persons who are most deserving benefit from this particular project… Embedded in that Cabinet paper will also be facilities for residents at different locations to have water-saving devices in their properties,” said Minister Griffith.
BWA engineer Shelley Parris explained that the eight-figure proposal will cover installations of solar photovoltaic systems and a backup generator. The project is expected to start in the “next few months” that will reduce greenhouse gas and provide cover in the event of natural disasters.
Executive Director of CCCCC, Dr Colin Young described the project as a “trailblazer” for other Caribbean countries given the importance of water, the implications of extended outages on public health and the collective threat of climate change.
“The fact that the Government of Barbados has prioritised this investment I think speaks volumes, because once you lose power from the grid, you can go to your solar pv system and then you still have a backup in terms of the microturbine natural gas,” said Dr Young.
“We all know the story of climate change. The situation is expected to get significantly worse, the number of storm-related events is expected to increase both in terms of intensity and frequency and things that we used to see once every 30 years will be occurring a lot more often and as a result, the Government is prioritising adaptation in key areas like water.
“That is why I say the demonstration of this project in Barbados is going to be a very important one in scaling up the lessons in other parts of the Caribbean that also face water scarcity. And so we are delighted once again to be able to work with the BWA who have actually been a real partner to the centre. The centre cannot do what it does without strong partnerships, both with the Governments and entities like the BWA,” he added.
The initiatives are part of the second phase of a plan that encompasses numerous upgrades to the Bridgetown Sewage Treatment Plant.
Project Development Specialist at CCCCC Dr Doneil Cain explained that the third component will focus on developing and strengthening the skills of people working in the sector.
“We have engineers who are well trained and knowledgeable about our systems, but in the context of climate change and the changing climate regime, we still need to keep our engineers on their feet in terms of understanding the climate change scenarios we face and how it is we have to adjust our infrastructure to respond to those climate change events that could impact us. So, it is important for us to develop standard operating procedures to allow our utilities to respond in the new climate regime,” said Dr Cain. (KS)