Ministry Of Environment Addresses River Bay Beach Seaweed Problem

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Seaweed deposits at River Bay, St. Lucy, will be removed this weekend.??????

This assurance was given today by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Environment, Lionel Weekes, as representatives from various agencies met to address complaints from residents regarding the presence and odour of seaweed in the area.

The team comprised the Director, of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Dr. Leo Brewster; Manager of the Sanitation Service Authority, Stanton Alleyne; Director of the Drainage Division, Keith Barrow; and Senior Well Inspector, Terrol Inniss.

Identifying a plan of action, Director of the Drainage Division, Keith Barrow, said: "We want to commence on Sunday…we’ll be using two pieces of heavy equipment and we’ll try and get most of the seaweed that’s caught in the water.?? We’ll try and push that onto dry land and the object there would be to allow the seaweed to dry out…on the sea side, near the cliff.?? ??We’re going to have a little bit more difficulty in reaching that seaweed, but we also expect to work on the following weekend." He also noted that the entire effort would take several weekends, "as the terrain is difficult…and we’re going to have to be very careful taking machines into that area".

Mr. Barrow observed, however, that the issue did not lie solely with the seaweed, but with the garbage strewn throughout the area.?? This, he said, not only compounded the smell in the area, but contributed to blockages throughout the waterway.??

"I’d like to use this opportunity to appeal to the public to take care of what is a beautiful picnic spot and to stop throwing garbage in the gully," he stressed.

This sentiment was echoed by Mr. Alleyne, who observed that efforts to assist in keeping the area clean were being thwarted by unscrupulous persons.

"There were garbage bins placed in the picnic area on more than one occasion and they tend to just ???walk away’ one by one.?? We’re going to work with the National Conservation Commission (NCC) and try to replace the garbage bins in the area and ask people to use them; but I also advise people, when they’re going to picnics, to take a bag with them to put the garbage in and [use the cans] instead of just leaving it (litter) on the ground," Mr. Alleyne added, while acknowledging that this activity, and illegal dumping, were both negatively affecting the picturesque area.

However, Director of the CZMU, Dr. Leo Brewster explained that the presence of seaweed along the coast was not a new phenomenon.??

He said: "From what we’ve seen, the sargassum seaweed which is affecting the east, south east and in some cases south of Barbados, actually migrated into the two tributaries of the River Bay area, driven in by the sea.?? The one that’s on the exposed side, between the beach and the cliff, has dried out and there’s no odour, because it’s in the sun; the real area [of concern] is the other side, which follows the road, where, for three to four hundred metres inland, the sea has pushed a lot of seaweed all the way inside the water course and it has more or less ???choked’ the water way…because it’s in the shade, it’s not drying, it’s stagnating in the shade.??

"What you’re really smelling is hydrogen sulphide coming off from the seaweed.

??[There’s] been the progressive depositing of the seaweed in the watercourse.?? It wasn’t just a one-off event – that seaweed has been floating around us for a very long time…it’s been making its way progressively up the east coast, so every time the high tide comes in, it pushes [the seaweed] in."????

However, Deputy Director of the Environmental Protection Department, Anthony Headley, pointed out, that the seaweed could be put to use in a beneficial manner.?? He suggested that it could be transported, when dried out, to the NCC for use in their gardening.?? "It is a good source of nitrogen," he stressed.

nekaelia.hutchinson@barbados.gov.bb

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