Spring Garden Reverse Osmosis Desalination Facility – The Great White BLP Calf

Submitted by Andre Jones

Ionics plant was never operated at full capacity according to Auditor General report

Of all the fatted calves in Barbados, the Reverse Osmosis Desalination Facility at Spring Garden owned and operated by Ionics Freshwater Limited is surely the fattest in the herd! This BLP calf delivers BDS$1.9 Million each and every year to its owners in the form of a standby charge billed to the Barbados Water Authority without even a drop of water making its way into the water main system of Barbados. The Auditor General discovered during its recent Special Audit of the Barbados Water Authority that BDS$19Million has already been paid to Ionics as a standby charge and this has nothing to do with the actual price of water produced by the facility and charged to the Barbados Water Authority. There is no doubt Mr. Ralph ‘BIZZY’ Williams and his good friends Hallem Nicholls and Owen Arthur do handsomely well out of this transaction.

This reminds one of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner poem by English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge written in 1797/98 and published in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads.

See related link: BWA’s Special Audit

Day after day, day after day,

We stuck, nor breathe, nor motion;

As idle a painted ship

Upon a painted ocean

Water, water, every where,

And all the boards did shrink;

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink.

In 1998, the Barbados Water Authority (then under the control of the BLP Administration) entered into a Build-Own-Operate Agreement with Ionics to build the Reverse Osmosis Desalination Facility at Spring Garden. The Agreement required Ionics to construct, operate, maintain and supply the Barbados Water Authority with 27,000 cubic meters of water capacity per day for a period of fifteen (15) years. Despite the Governments Planning and Priorities Committee requirement to include an option in the agreement for the Barbados Water Authority to purchase the facility at a predetermined price at any given point, the Water Supply Agreement between Ionics and the Barbados Water Authority makes it very very difficult if not virtually impossible for the Barbados Water Authority to ever acquire the facility. The Auditor General also discovered that in addition to the standby charge (free money) of BDS$1.9Million per year Ionics was and probably still is reaping the astronomical rate of return (ROI) of 18% on their investment.

By some estimates the operator Ionics and its shareholders are profiteering to the tune of BDS$10Million each and every year for operating the plant and selling the water to the Barbados Water Authority and if this is correct, one wonders where all those profits finally end up and whether anyone from the previous BLP Administration benefits as well.  The attached Report from the Auditor General shines a bit of sunlight onto this nasty, corrupt and clearly one-sided agreement. Is this the kind of privatization the BLP has in mind when they talk about selling Barbados’s interest in state owned enterprises and statutory corporations to private sector?

0 thoughts on “Spring Garden Reverse Osmosis Desalination Facility – The Great White BLP Calf

  1. @ David .
    Please save us from this foolishness ; if some posters know no better surely you do . You mean we have now come to a stage when a man’s phenotype will be used to assess whether he is good looking or ugly ? Save us David , Please !

  2. I recommend that all of you bloggers both B and D, take the time and schedule a visit to the plant. It is beautiful, well-kept and well run. Many school kids, Bajans in general, students from B’dos Community College, Medical students attached to the Ministry of Health, and tourists visit each year and I have only heard wonderful positive comments about this plant. This is no white elephant at all but a vital supplier of clean water to the general populace. I see much speculation but I wish the naysayers would go down and visit and learn something about the process and the care that goes into providing clean water for as many Barbadians as they can supply. All of the employees are 100% Bajan.

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