Between June and now, Barbados has received approximately 60 per cent less rainfall than the country normally would at this time of the year.
This was disclosed by Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, during a recent site visit to St. Andrew.
He was joined by representatives of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA), the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), the Town and Country Development Planning Office (TCDPO), and other water experts.
Dr. Estwick stated that the major reason for the water outages being faced by residents throughout the island was the low water levels in some of the reservoirs.
???There has been 50 to 60 per cent less rainfall with the aquifers??? water levels being significantly less than usual ??? So you are pumping significantly less water into the reservoirs from water wells that tap the aquifer. Additionally, rainfall takes about three months to travel from the surface to the aquifers,??? he explained.
The Agriculture Minister pointed out that Barbados has traditionally depended on ground water sources for its potable water supply. However, given the trend towards a reduction in rainfall in the region, he noted that Barbados could no longer depend solely on rainwater-fed aquifers for its potable water supply. Therefore, he added, there was a need to incorporate the use of trapped surface water and desalination, as suggested by water experts throughout the Caribbean.
Dr. Estwick continued: ???However, as we look at capturing some of the run-off water via the creation of dams, it is important to execute this not too close to the ocean. The reason for this is that run-off water is an important factor that pushes the ocean back and reduces the intrusion of salt water into our well systems. This is critical because this country has five inland stream wells and 19 coastal wells that are susceptible to sea level rise and salt water intrusion.
???If you have low rainfall there will be low water volumes in the aquifers; there will be low water volumes in the wells and there will be low water volumes in the reservoirs that supply your homes. This is the present situation in Barbados and several Caribbean countries, therefore the rapid response policy introduced is a mitigation measure to ensure communities have access to potable water given the present situation.???
Dr. Estwick also revealed that his Ministry was working with the BWA, TCDPO and EPD to examine the possibility of introducing rain water harvesting, not for potable purposes, as a conservation measure for potable water, while the options of surface water harvesting and desalination are explored.