A member of the public posing a question at??the consultation.??
As illicit dumping continues to pose significant threats to the island’s water supply, at least one Government Minister is calling for electronic surveillance at some popular dumping sites.
It has come from Minister of the Environment, Dr. Denis Lowe, who is also appealing for greater law enforcement.
Speaking following a recent public consultation to discuss the Comprehensive Review and Overhaul of the Groundwater Protection Zoning Policy and System in Barbados, Minister Lowe said that in light of the imminent threats, there was need to move with some alacrity.
"I think that we need to conduct more surveillance. At times, we may also have to use electronic surveillance, because there are places that are most vulnerable to illegal dumping. In my view, these should be under constant watch …I know that persons will be caught, and once they are, the full weight of the law should be brought to bear," he declared.
Noting that enforcement was more than having laws on the statute books, Minister?? Lowe underscored?? the need to have the "will to enforce."
"I do not think that we can wait any longer. Barbados is a water scare country and this means that the water that is available to us must be protected. You can’t protect things by just saying – you must put the legislative framework in place to ensure that you can enforce the law," he maintained.
Minister Lowe, however, conceded that part of the problem was that different aspects of the law were currently under the remit of various ministries and departments.
"We have a draft Environmental Protection Act which is intended to bring all these pieces of legislation under one umbrella, and we believe that this would allow for better enforcement," he disclosed.
In commenting on the pervasive problem, Barbados Water Authority (BWA) Engineer and Project Manager for the new Groundwater Protection Zoning Policy, Stephen Lindo, stressed: "When you see fridges, stoves and beds in Zone 1 areas it cannot be littering – that is illicit dumping!
"The legislation has to have teeth. There must be a policy that says that Government is prepared to prosecute persons for illegal dumping," he emphasised.
Meanwhile, Hydrologist?? with?? R J Burnside International, Dwight Smikle, ??told the public consultation that?? research had shown that the island’s aquifer (portion of coral rock/limestone that actually holds?? water) was variable, very porous and had high flow rates.
"Studies showed that the aquifer responded very well to rainfall events and if this is the case, if there are contaminants in the Belle or Hampton areas, similarly, these are likely to spread quickly to the aquifer," he surmised, further highlighting the underlying danger of illegal dumping.
The increasing number of?? properties being erected in Zone 1 areas; abandoned quarries in ??and around?? the Zone 1 corridors; over pumping of?? wells and nitrate levels??
bordering and sometimes exceeding World Health Organisation guidelines in some areas, were also cited as the major risk factors to water supply at this time.