Minister of Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and Water Resource Management, Dr. David Estwick, has outlined a number of short- and long-term solutions to alleviate the water shortage currently affecting island.

The Minister announced the measures earlier today during a press conference at his office at Graeme Hall, Christ Church.

Dr. Estwick revealed that he instructed the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) to use its emergency procurement provisions to complete the Northern Upgrade project, which began before he took the helm of the Ministry.

The plant, he disclosed, would move 12,000 cubic metres of water from the Spring Garden desalination plant down the west coast to the Battaleys reservoir in St. Peter and to Warleigh reservoir, which would take water into Rock Hall, St. Peter, and as far as Rock Hall, St. Thomas.

Dr. Estwick stated that for the first time in its history, the BWA was working aggressively to replace all old and decaying water mains, some of which were 120 years old. He explained that work on the mains replacement began with the Ionics project, where three major mains were changed to the tune of BBD $32 million.

This was followed by the Inter-American Development Bank-funded mains replacement package A programme, which was completed, and package B, which is ongoing, at a cost of BBD $42 million.

The Agriculture Minister also disclosed that on December 10 last year, the Caribbean Development Bank approved a Reservoir and Water Mains Replacement loan of BBD $80 million, which is currently being processed.

He further added that the BWA was now investing BBD $8 million to replace the Grand View reservoir, which, if not repaired, would severely affect the water supply to Bridgetown.

Dr. Estwick said that the BWA had also recently introduced a Leak Detection Department, and was currently working on reservoirs in the Scotland District area.

???The water main connecting the Golden Ridge to the Castle Grant Reservoir was in bad shape for years. These reservoirs service St. Joseph. ???For years, when you made any attempt to pump water from Golden Ridge to Castle Grant, it leaked into the ground. We are in the process of establishing a direct water main from Sweet Vale Basin to Castle Grant, where a new well is being drilled after Ward Drilling found over 160 ft. of fresh water,??? he explained.

Turning his attention to the short-term solutions, the Minister revealed that eight new water tankers had been ordered to assist residents being affected by water outages. The tankers are expected to arrive in the island within the next few weeks, and would bring the total number to 13.

He continued: ???The BWA has also developed the St. Philip Water Augmentation project to alleviate water shortages in St. Philip and Christ Church. The project, which will be commissioned on Wednesday next week, will give the BWA an access to an additional 3.5 million gallons of water per day. Some of the water found will be channeled to St. Joseph via the Bowmanston pumping station in St. John.

???Additionally, the BWA has refurbished a well at Groves in St. George, which should produce an additional 0.5 million gallons of water to the Golden Ridge/Castle Grant System to supply the northern parishes. A new pumping station at the Lazaretto has been completed to push desalinated water down the west coast and into St. Peter and St. Lucy.???

Dr. Estwick also disclosed that two temporary packaged desalination plants have been ordered to augment the supply of fresh water.

???These plants will be in Barbados in a few weeks and will be incorporated into the permanent desalination plants to be constructed. The Barbados Water Authority???s Board has been instructed to call an emergency Board meeting and use its emergency procurement provisions to approve the construction of two 6MGD (six million gallons per day) desalination plants in the northwest of Barbados,??? he stated.

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