Barbados Dumping Millions of Gallons of Good Water Into the Sea

Submitted by PHILIP G HUNTE

Keithroy Halliday, GM of the BWA

Some years ago, around the turn of the century, I wrote one of the only two “letters to the editor” that I have ever written. I am not the prolific Philip Hunte that is regularly seen in the papers.

The letter dealt with our declining sugar industry and our then new South Coast Sewerage Project [SCSP]. I had learnt that the SCSP was a primary treatment plant and that the “treated sewage” was to be discharged some 1Km southwest of Needhams Point.

I also learnt that it would be dumping 7 million gallons daily into the ocean. The BWA uses imperial gallons, so this translates to just under 32000 m³ of water loss for this island. Water that used to go back into the ground is now being dumped into the ocean.

The whole South Coast sits on a sheet of water, anywhere from Bridgetown to Long Beach and below the escarpment that runs along Gunsite, Rendezvous, Top Rock, Thornbury Hill, Gibbons and Paragon. It is an area of about 3300 acres, all in Christ Church. Anywhere in this area, you could dig a well down to sea level and find fresh water. Many wells are still used, none I believe for potable water. This type of water catchment is called sheet water where freshwater will rest on a layer of seawater that intrudes through the limestone. At Rockley Golf Course well, for instance, the well is 54’ deep and contains about 8’ of water. I have had the pleasure of swimming in it and once dropped a wrench while changing a pump in there and had to dive to the bottom to retrieve it. With no mask on, the deeper I went the more my eyes burnt, meaning that the water got saltier towards the bottom. That was ten years ago and I wonder if it has gotten saltier now that we have been depriving the area of what works out to be the equivalent of 34” of water spread out over the entire south coast from the Garrison to Long Beach. Oh, and that figure is annual. You see the green strip that is the racetrack at the Garrison Savannah? It is irrigated from a well located about 250’ away from the finish line, a desalination plant was built a few years ago.

I say the above to address the fact that, in a water scarce country, we have been getting rid of water worth almost $150000.00 per day for the past 14 years. My letter to the editor went on to say that we should further treat that water and use it for agriculture. My proposal was to treat it at Graeme Hall and pump it eastward along the ABC highway, all the way to St. Philip where it could benefit farmers and in particular, the growing of sugar cane.

We grow our sugar cane without irrigation. About 20 years ago, a pilot project was carried out at Grove Plantation St. Philip where a 5-acre plot of cane was irrigated and fertilized using subsurface irrigation (dripline buried beneath the cane), the fertilizer was injected directly into the irrigation where any weeds saw no benefit from it. Grove (well managed but in a dry part of the island) averaged 17 tons/acre, the pilot plot produced 51 tons/acre, had to be cut by hand as it grew too tall for the harvester and produced slightly less the following year. They could have had two crops if they had somewhere to deliver it. The data is still out there.

The above shows the potential that is still there, The available water, full of nutrients, can be used to irrigate 2000 acres in this manner, producing at least the equivalent of what 6000 acres now produces and being able to continuously produce, the equivalent of 12000 acres. The added benefit would be to concentrate the growing into a smaller area thereby reducing harvesting & transportation costs. It would take a team of intelligent, resourceful, innovative and above all, honest people to work on the feasibility of a project like this.

So we now have increased production but we still cannot compete with the world market for bulk sugar. Don’t, package it really nicely, hire a marketing firm to promote it and the only sugar that leaves this island leaves in 500g packages made of compressed bagasse. We charge top dollar and at last something exported will subsidise the cost to locals, unlike things like cement & ice cream, made in Barbados but can be bought cheaper overseas. We can then say that our rum is again truly ours because our molasses would not have to be imported. Lets not forget that the Bridgetown sewerage plant dumps 2 million gallons per day and that the West Coast system was projected at 5 million.


  • I am there too!!

    Talk with you next time I see you.


  • Bernard Codrington

    PG Hunte

    An innovative way of solving the problem,while adding to the greening of Barbados. Why was the initial project abandoned?


  • What initial project?


  • A very good article. Very informative.


  • Thanks Philip, these sound like sensible proposals.


  • Bernard Codrington

    @PGH at 7:33 PM

    The Project at Grove Plantation, St Philip, that yielded 51 tons of cane per acre.


  • I have no idea why it was abandoned, it was done as a pilot project and lasted for four or five years with declining yields, as one would expect with ratoons, after that it would have eventually been ploughed up.


  • An interesting submission. Let us hope we can have some peer review. It reminds BU of a couple weeks ago when Patricia Inniss explained The issue with the water/waste management from her perspective. It is evident no effort was made over the years to trap or transfer knowledge. It was embarrassing although laudable to listen to her asking BWA retirees to make contact with the BWA.

    Given the importance of this utility and resource a structured program  should have been in place a long time ago.


  • As Philip well knows, this is par for the course in Barbados. Decisions are hardly ever made based on merit or best practice in public or private business …. shiite, not even in sport.

    Such a brilliant pilot project would NEVER have survived a change of minister (NOT even necessarily of government) as the new incumbent will inevitably bring along his own personal poppet chairman/ board, and CEO ….all with their own various and collective plans to enrich themselves.

    EVERYBODY in Barbados knows this to be the case, and indeed, WE ACCEPT IT AS NORMAL and even have a bunch of jokers on hereon BU talking shiite about the ‘merits of Machiavellian politics’ …and bragging about how people who preach merit and TECHNICAL solutions ‘can never win’.

    In short, this is a country dominated by brass bowls….. and we will thus reap the appropriate rewards.

    Bushie drove through the shiite flowing down Hastings yesterday…. and the MOST AMAZING thing was the ‘business as usual’ attitudes all around. A CLEAR case of a people who have no love for themselves…..not only of a shiite government – We KNEW that ever since CLICO….. but of a VAST majority of stupid, hopeless, mindless, sleeping brass-bowl, slave-minded morons.

    It is what happens when people DEFINE God out of their lives and out of their future.

    First….righteousness goes…
    Then…cleanliness, justice, security, hope, peace, love…..all fade away
    …and we end up where we are…
    Downgraded, lawless, dirty, hopeless and living comfortably in shiite….


  • Underworld Whistleblower

    @ Bushie

    Your post above is the most accurate I have ever read on this blog sums up Barbados 100%


  • Bush Tea’s coherent and concise summation is what is plaguing this island. Well said, but sad.


  • What does James Paul in his role as head of the Barbados Agricultural Society have to say as it relates to the suggestion Hunte’s suggestion to redirect water being dumped into the sea and used it for agricultural purposes?  We all know he will remain wedded to his political role especially with an election on the horizon.


  • James Paul should have resigned his post as CEO of BAS from the day he went into politics


  • The culture is not for politicians to resign for any reason.


  • and give up his $12,000.00 salary………..


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