The increasingly dry conditions in the country have prompted the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) to activate its Drought Management Plan. We are currently at Stage 1, where a BWA taskforce has been established to monitor key drought parameters and to coordinate the process of taking appropriate action.
At this time, the Authority is encouraging customers to practice good water use habits and employ voluntary conservation measures. These include abandoning the use of hoses for non-essential activities such as irrigating ornamental plants and washing vehicles. The BWA believes that voluntary conservation at this stage, if practiced islandwide, will go a long way towards avoiding undue dislocations and water outages, should conditions deteriorate further.
The Barbados Government Information Service will soon be airing conservation messages on radio and television. These will be repeated with increased frequency in the weeks ahead. All efforts are being made to have our water tankers in a state of readiness and, where necessary, to be able to supplement the fleet by private tankers.??
If the situation demands that we move to Stage 2, the taskforce will be expanded to become a multi-agency one and an official prohibition will then be issued. This will be the beginning of the mandatory stage which will also signal the start of night-time shut offs in selected distribution systems. Mechanisms will be put in place to police enforcement of the prohibition, with offenders being dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the BWA Act.
The Drought Management Plan will be accelerated to Stage 3, which is the final stage, if the situation does not improve. At this point more austere measures will have to be employed. These will entail extended shut-offs in the distribution system, even at times during the day.??
It is important to note that 2009 was a dry year in which rainfall was significantly less than in 2008. This year has begun with very dry weather and the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) has predicted a dry spell that will affect the entire region for months. Already during this dry season, some areas of Barbados have begun to experience water supply problems and the situation is being aggravated by the numerous bush fires, which require much water to extinguish them. At least one of these fires threatened the existence of one of the Authority’s pumping facilities and adversely affected our ability to supply water from that location for a number of days.
Most of our water systems have stood up relatively well when compared with those of our neighbours. The Warleigh system is at present the only one showing significant sustained deterioration. As Warleigh pumps water to reservoirs at Shop Hill, St. Thomas and at Rock Hall, St. Peter both of which have been negatively impacted and have recorded low water levels.
The Barbados Water Authority will continue to inform customers through the press of developments as they unfold. We request the cooperation of the public to conserve water usage as we seek to manage the drought together.