Barbados Water Authority’s (BWA) Technical Advisor to the Board, Dr. John Mwansa, describes the water levels at the Bowmanston well as “extremely concerning”.
During a tour on Wednesday of the cave, located beneath Bowmanston Pumping Station, Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Wilfred Abrahams, staff of the Ministry and BWA, as well as media personnel, received a first-hand visual experience of the current water deficit in the cave.
The Technical Advisor, explaining why he was extremely concerned about the deficit of the water level in the cave, said: “The last time we went into the well to check was in November 2019. When we did that, when we stepped on to the well the water level was so high, immediately we had to start swimming to go to the Check Dam.
“Today, when we stepped out of the well, we had to step down the ladder 15 feet to the bottom of the well and that was dry, so when you look at the depth of water that is in the cave, there’s a difference of about 15 to 20 feet between what it was in November last year and what it is now.”
Dr. Mwansa also informed the media that because the water level was so low downstream, it impacted the level upstream, where the pumping station pumps are connected to the cave. As a result, the capacity for pumping at the Bowmanston Pumping Station is reduced.
He said this reduction in pumping not only affects the distribution of water to residents of St. John and parts of St. George, but it also impacts the reservoirs at Golden Ridge and Castle Grant, which service residents of St. Joseph and St. Thomas.
He further explained that “because you have reduced the amount of water that you are bringing in from the well … the reservoir level will drop …, so if you continue pumping you will damage the pumps as well,” because they will start to “suck in air”.
Dr. Mwansa stressed therefore that the BWA has no choice but to turn off the pumping system to allow the reservoir to replenish.
As a result, residents in the above-mentioned parishes, receive either an intermittent supply of water, or experience low water levels, and have to be serviced with water tankers during the time the station is offline.
The Technical Advisor highlighted that “on average we pump about 1.5 to 2 million gallons [of water] a day from the Bowmanston Cave to feed into the [distribution] system”.
With the current levels being so low, he stressed that without heavy rainfall during the rainy season, which is usually June to November, the situation at Bowmanston and other pumping stations across the island would continue to experience low water levels and in turn the distribution of water to residents and businesses will be impacted.