Barbados joins the rest of the world today, Monday, March 22, 2021, in the observance of World Water Day. World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the global water crisis. The core focus of the observance is to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, water and sanitation for all by 2030.
The theme of World Water Day 2021 is “Valuing Water.” The value of water is about much more than its price. Water addresses a very basic need and is therefore of enormous and comprehensive value for our households, food, health, culture, environment, economics and the integrity of our natural environment. If we overlook the value of water to our various stakeholders in any of these areas, there will be the risk of mismanaging this finite, irreplaceable resource.
In Barbados today, we face very serious challenges with water, as we grapple with the reality of size and the complications of being a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) and, of course, climate change, which impacts almost every facet of our lives.
Given these realities, it is important to recognize and celebrate the Barbados Water Authority for their efforts to provide water to all Barbadians. The Ministry of Transport, Works and Water Resources wishes to especially note the BWA’s performance as essential service providers during the COVID pandemic.
In Barbados, as is very much the case in the rest of the world, water is essential for handwashing and hygiene which, in turn, is critical to reducing the spread of the COVID-19. But what is equally interesting is that COVID-19, despite its global disruption and devastation, provides an excellent opportunity for Barbados to intensify its efforts towards becoming a “Water Smart Society”, in keeping with the theme of Word Water Day 2021.
A “Water Smart Society” is one in which the true value of water is recognised and realised by all. Such a society represents a paradigm shift in both areas of water conservation and management. Key to development is the improvement of water efficiency by increasing water re-use and recycling, reducing leakages, exploring additional opportunities for saving water and the ongoing development of water infrastructure.
As part of our natural and cultural heritage, water is not only a question of resource availability but also a matter of opportunities and resilience through its links with climate, infrastructure, digitalisation, biodiversity, food, tourism, transport, trade and energy. Globally, more than three of four jobs depend on the supply of sufficient water.
It is against this background that amongst several water augmentation programs in place across the island I am happy to advise householders in the parishes of St. John, St. Joseph, St. Andrew and St. Thomas, that by the end of May 2021, they should have a much improved flow of water through their taps.
This will be as result of the Barbados Water Authority’s Vineyard Augmentation Project, which will see the transfer of some 1.5 to 2.0 million gallons of water per day from the Vineyard Reservoir in St. Philip to Golden Ridge Reservoir in St. George.
This project, which comes at a cost of $BDS16.4 million to the Government of Barbados, is progressing smoothly. I can report that the construction phase, being carried out by the Barbados Water Authority, in conjunction with a number of contractors, is now due for completion by May 31st 2021. The project included the construction of a new pumping station at Vineyard, St. Philip, and a new pumping station and reservoir at Mount Pleasant, also in the parish of St. Philip.
Work on the installation of 2.7 km of water mains from Vineyard to Mount Pleasant and 4.6 km of mains from Mount Pleasant to Eastmont, is nearing completion.
It would be remiss of me if I did not seize this opportunity to address those water supply challenges being experienced by residents of other areas of Barbados, for example, the northern districts of Boscobelle, Oxford and Date Tree Hill in the parish of St. Peter and those of Josey Hill, Maycocks Development, Crab Hill and Greenidges, in the parish of St. Lucy, where there have been persistent complaints from residents about discoloured (brown) water.
What is really at the root of these problems and what are the customised solutions being applied by the Barbados Water Authority?
As far as the chronic water shortages are concerned, this has been attributed to the reduction in supply from the Alleynedale and Hope pumping stations during the prolonged period of drought; frequent incidents of burst mains which result in wastage and loss of large amounts of water and occasional equipment failures as a result of power outages and equipment malfunction.
The problem of discoloured water, particularly prevalent in the areas of Maycocks, Crab Hill, Josey Hill, Greenidges, Boscobelle, Pie Corner, Fustic, Six Men’s and Broomfield, has been a direct result of aged water mains (in many cases over 100 years) and changes in water quality, occasioned by ground water and desalinated water.
I am happy, therefore, to report initial planning progress with the nationwide implementation of a BDS$34.5 million comprehensive Strategic Mains Replacement Programme which will not only go a long way in addressing the discoloured water problems in the north.
Simultaneously, the Authority is working on the augmentation of water supply in affected areas, with the establishment, as a temporary measure, of a brackish water desalination plant at Colleton/Alleynedale in St Lucy, which will also provide additional water supply to householders.
In keeping with the theme of World Water Day 2021, “Valuing Water” I end this message by reinforcing some important tips on tested and proven methods of being “water smart”:
- Never let the faucet run needlessly as you wash or rinse dishes, wash your hands or face, brush your teeth or shave.
- Fix your leaks. A slow drip from a leaking tap can waste as much as 20 gallons of water per day.
- Use water efficient appliances, faucets and shower heads.
- Find alternative uses of (secondary – rinse-water) water.
- Store drinking water which can be used and replaced as necessary to keep the supply fresh.
- The bathroom uses the most water in the house so you should avoid unnecessary flushing and shorten your showers.
- Repair dripping taps by replacing washers.
- Use a watering can to water plants/garden.
- Practise water harvesting by capturing and storing rainwater for use in the garden and elsewhere.
Try doing at least one thing each day that will result in saving water because – Every Drop Counts.
Minister of Transport, Works and Water Resources, Ian Gooding Edghill