Piping Sewage to the Sea a Clear and Present Danger

… Abrahams said that the outfall extends 815 metres (2,700 feet) offshore with two distinct high density polyethylene lines (HDPE), which was installed by Ward Drilling Inc., with sub–contractor Marenco Marine Ltd. One 8-inch and one 12-inch lines have been installed, with both of them capable of taking the entire flow from the plant individually…. Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Wilfred Abrahams

A recent discussion on another blog explained the threat to the environment of piping sewerage into the sea. Successive governments in their wisdom never allocated the resources to implement a tertiary treatment process as part of a relevant waste management system.  An irony for the blogmaster is that the Cabinet now includes a Minister of the Blue Economy, another for the Environment and let us not forget Water Resources.

The following comments (in two parts) were shared by Dr. Robert Lucas, PH.D., CFS,  Biotechnologist with the BU family in response to the question – what is the significance of a build up of phosphates and nitrates at the point of discharge in causing an algae bloom?

– David, Blogmaster

Comment #1

It is called eutrophication and is currently occurring off the south coast of Barbados where the escaping sewerage is being pumped into the sea. At the point of discharge there is a build up of phosphates and nitrates which cause an algae bloom that results in depletion of the oxygen content of the seawater. This creates a de facto desert in the sea. Halophilic anaerobic microorganisms predominate.


Comment #2

Nitrogen and phosphates occur in the foods humans ingest, Unused nitrates and phosphates are excreted into faecal matter. Nitrates and phosphates are soluble and are therefore easily dissolved in water. Nitrates and phosphates are essential elements required for microbial growth (note phosphates and nitrates are present as salts of potassium and sodium, i.e. all the major elements required for plant growth are present).

Also present in sea water are trace elements such as magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, sulphur, iron, zinc and copper. In other words you have an ideal medium for plant growth. There is therefore an algal bloom which depletes the oxygen content of the area where the sewerage discharge occurs. That is at the end of the pipeline from which the discharge occurs and as far as the diffused elements reach by a process of osmosis. This area is a virtual desert, deficient in all plant and animal life (biota). Remember bacteria are actually members of the plant family,

Also present will be unicellular parasites (protozoa) which can cause amoebic dysentery (the lack of oxygen kills the non-cyst stage). The cysts stage constitute what are called survival bodies and ingesting such contaminated water results in illness.note anaerobic halophilic  (salt tolerant) microbes are predominant in the affected area.

Minister Abrahams Evidence Please about the Swamp!

The Editor

Barbados Underground


Dear Sir/Madam,

According to an article in Barbados Today of 2nd.February 2019, Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams had the following to say: “We have come in eight months….. Graeme Hall swamp which was receiving raw sewage for over three years is on the rebound, fish have come back, the water quality is great, smells have gone down, the mosquitoes have been controlled.” He added “that the water in the swamp has remained at acceptable levels since the outfall was commissioned and the Environmental Protection Department has reported that the water quality samples have “comfortably passed” international standards for health and safety. However, oceanographic studies of the beach will be continued to make sure that the 12-inch outfall does not impact the water quality of nearshore or offshore reefs.”

I have some comments to make on the above statements. It is noticeable that no testing seems to have been done on the following: sediments at the bottom of the swamp; the presence of protozoans and lastly the presence of bacteriophages.The protozoan parasites Giardia duodenalis and Cryptosporidium spp.,are pathogens that are resistant to a number of environmental factors and pose significant risks to public health worldwide. “Their environmental transmission is closely governed by the physio-chemical properties of their cysts (Giardia) and oocysts (Cryptosporidium)allowing their transport, retention, and survival for months in water,soil,vegetables (Dumetre and others (2012).“Interaction Forces Drive the Environmental Transmission of Pathogenic Protozoa.’ Applied and Environmental Microbiology.p905-912. Note ,cysts and oocysts are survival bodies that are extremely resistant to different methods of destruction. It really does not make sense to say because the water is less cloudy that microbial conditions have improved significantly. Since sedimentation occurs over time, there is obviously going to be a gradation from the surface to the bottom of the swamp in the concentration of effluents. At each sub-stratum level, there will be different numbers of viable micro-organisms. The numbers being dependent on the ability of the sunlight to penetrate the water. Obviously,if there is significant amount of sewerage entering the swamp and little exiting into the sea (as seems to be the case locally), penetration of sunlight is going to be restricted due to the high levels of effluent present. The most important factor for the removal of viral and bacterial pathogens is sunlight exposure, although other factors such as temperature, dissolved oxygen and pH are also important. Sedimentation is the most important factor for the removal of protozoan pathogens. Therefore, sampling of the of the different strata and sediment have to be done to reflect the true microbial condition of the swamp’s ecosystem. It is interesting to note that the water quality samples have “comfortably passed” international standards for health. I do not know what this is supposed to mean. For example “Guidelines for the microbiological quality of treated wastewater used in agriculture: recommendations for revising WHO guidelines (Blumenthal and others.2000.Bull.WHO 78:9:1104-1116) reported that The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the US Agency for International Development(USIAD) have recommended strict guidelines for wastewater use as being zero fecal coliform bacteria/100 ml for water used to irrigate crops that are eaten raw(compared with the1989 WHO guidelines of < 1000 fecal coliform bacteria/100 ml), and for irrigation of commercially processed and fodder crops. It would be useful if the results of local sampling were made available to the public.

Sediments may provide a stable index of the general quality of the overlying water, particularly where there is great variability in its bacteriological quality. It should be noted also, however, that if the sediments at the bottom of the swamp are disturbed due to excess surface run-off which causes turbulence at the interface of water and sediment,there is an up-welling of sediment which can cause co-mingle,thereby re-contaminating the water.

Viruses which infect bacteria, are known as bacteriophages or simply as phages. Normally,phages infect a specific strain of bacteria. Enteric micro-organisms associated with fecal contamination are E.coli, klebsiella spp.,Shigella etc. There is a direct relationship between the number of phages and the intensity of fecal contamination. It should be noted here that the bacteriophage hijacks the bacterium DNA to make copies of itself,resulting in the death of the host(bacterium). Therefore, the failure to detect pathogenic bacteria does not mean that the water quality is adequate

The outfall which is being used to pump partially treated effluent into the sea,is going to cause an algae bloom,resulting in eutrophication (depletion of dissolved oxygen).As a result,there is going to be what can be termed a desert being formed in the affected area of the sea in which there is an absence of biotic life.


Robert D. Lucas, PH.D and CFS



When the sewage breach on the South Coast first surfaced social media was accused of being irresponsible by giving it maximum airplay. Two ministers – John Boyce and Richard Sealy – felt motivated to jump smackdab in the affected area. Subsequent events have graphically illustrated that there was validity in concerns expressed at this relatively early juncture.

Further, it is reported that leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley sent an offline request to the prime minister two years ago to request a meeting, the objetive to discuss how a potential crisis could have been averted. In true bonehead style the request was ignored-  history is replete with narratives to support the political polarization that characterizes how backwater locales manage the affairs of state.

If there is one learning that should be taken away by ALL Barbadians is that there is benefit to working together in the national interest. If we cannot collaborate when the national issue is under threat then the question must be asked – why spend millions to educate ourselves?

The following videos were posted to Facebook and shared by Barbados Underground in the public’s interest.



Waste Management: Serious Topic Barbadians Must DEMAND Discussion from Political Parties

If for no other reason the general election season is a good opportunity to vent on the issues. One issue the blogmaster will be keeping an eye is how will the parties address waste management in the near, medium and long term. It was a big ticket item for the last government (DLP) however ten years later, it remains an outstanding item.

Here is a bullet extracted from the 2013 DLP Manifesto:

Provide sustainable solutions in the areas of solid waste management and water scarcity;

The sight of sewage water flowing on the streets of the South Coast which is located in the heart of our tourist belt continues to be a worry, increasing tourist arrivals notwithstanding. The issue is not that the design of the Sewage Plant was flawed under a BLP government. It is that for ten years those in charge of running the country were aware and allow the problem to get worse. We know that if the government was not aware the leader of the Opposition shared the information with the prime minister two years ago and he trivialized her attempt to draw attention to the issue. A similar reasoning is true for the situation unravelling at the Supreme Court.

What will be done to deal with the issue of raw sewage leaking on the South Coast AND elsewhere must be a national debate in the next 25 days. We stress on elsewhere because the blogmaster observed weeping manholes in Lake Folly.

Here is the pump adjacent to Lucky Horseshoe that is overflowing, again. The BWA promised that the 10 inch pump would have addressed this issue. The video was shot yesterday evening.

Food Biotechnologist Concerned About Water Quality | Agrees With US Embassy Warning Citizens

Dr. Robert D.

Dun-Low lane


Barbados, BB11157



8th, February2018

The Editor

Barbados Underground

Bridgetown, Barbados

West Indies

Dear Sir/Madam

There is an article entitled “USA Embassy Unfairly Issues Public Health Advisory on Barbados” appearing in the “Barbados Underground.” Mention was made by various officials including the general manager (GM) of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) and the acting chief medical officer (CMO) to the non-specific nature of the elevated microbial counts obtained by the Americans. The CMO also alluded to the fact that pseudomonas spp. are normally found in water tanks and plumbing fixtures if the levels of chlorine are depleted.

I have a few comments to make on the above. It is a fact that one would expect to find pseudomonas spp.in water tanks and plumbing fixtures since pseudomonas are capable of forming microbial biofilms and attachment to solid surfaces if cleaning in place has not been done. What was not mentioned is the fact that pseudomonas are also found associated with sewage. Also not mentioned is the fact that some pseudomonas are pathogenic to humans owing to the elaboration of enterotoxins I refer the CMO and the GM to the following articles, which they can find on the internet:

Charterization of Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO Specific Bacteriophages Isolated from Sewage Samples.

Kurman and others, 2009. American Journal of Biomedical Sciences.1 :2 :91–102.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli in Sewerage and Fresh Water. Wheater and others 1980.

Water Research : 14 :7 : 713-721.

In microbiology, elevations of microbial counts are a matter for concern. To do otherwise, one would be guilty of gross negligence. In chemical and microbial risk analysis, one is taught how to evaluate risk. Risk interpretations obviously by the Americans were found to be unacceptable in this particular case. The Americans issued the advisory to their nationals, as is their right. It is therefore silly to talk about the Americans being unfair. Should the Americans put the welfare of Barbadians above the welfare of their citizens? I really do not think so. To show how silly the above position is, on the Voice of Barbados (VOB) call-in program of 30th January 2018, there was a caller who seemed very knowledgeable. He told the moderator that as far as he was concerned, the Americans were correct in their actions. He went on to point out that on a scale of 1to 10,with 10 being the worst value, that Barbados’ water scored consistently around 9.5(with all the atrazine and fertilizers being used in agriculture one ought not to be surprised). The moderator said that he knew about the border-line nature of Barbados’ water but he was ticked off with the Americans because they made it seemed as though the whole country’s water supply was affected by the sewerage crisis. What amazed me about the whole thing was the fact that an experience journalist knew about the borderline nature of the country’s water supply and did not inform the citizenry.

This unfair talk is all about the fact that this country has been silly enough to depend mainly on tourism for developmental purposes. There is a fear that the bottom will drop out of the tourist market because of the present debacle. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” We have had leaders with limited or no vision. We are in the twenty-first century and the emphasis is still on economics, medicine, law, political science.


Robert D. Lucas, PH.D.

Food Biotechnologist

Blame Government for South Coast Sewage Disaster

Submitted by Theo

Leaking manhole located at the exit of Chicken Barn as at 5PM on 04 January 2018.

Good evening.

I feel compelled to share this information with the folks on Barbados Underground.

Please go to the below link and download the document.

Digest it.


One can form an intelligent opinion as to what is the real problem  with the South Coast Sewerage Project.

It’s  textbook case of absolute maladministration. Absolute poor management from the top down. With the structure of Bajan party-in-power politics, it mirrors exactly why Barbados is where it is today. Absolute lack of leadership.

Go to:


Please read through the wealth of documentation.

Reflect on the predictions made since 2008 as to what would happen.

Why has no one on your Blog connected the dots with this entity and the Government of Barbados?

Go to:


Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary has an excellent website and for years they have been battling government to resolve the issues being confronted. NO Action.. Its now 10 years since they closed in December 2008 according to their press releases.

I’m not sure why government refused to let this investment flourish.  That’s another discussion to entertain.

Leaving politics out of the discussion this sanctuary could only have brought major benefits to Barbados.

Summary: From pg 31

B. Objectives

2.2 The primary objective of the project is to achieve a bacteriological standard for the near-shore waters on the south coast that corresponds to accepted international standards and at the same time to reduce the chemical contamination that affects the reefs, marine life and beaches. Specifically, the project would:

(a) prevent further contamination of the near-shore seawater and deterioration of coral reefs and other marine life;

(b) prevent further contamination of groundwater reserves in the project area; and

(c) improve sanitary conditions generally. The project would also contribute to improve the operation and maintenance of the existing Bridgetown sewerage system and the efficiency of the BWA in the commercial and financial management areas. All these elements, but particularly the restoration of water quality, would protect the tourism industry, a sector which is vital for the economic future of Barbados. The project would complement planned investment projects for solid waste management, sewerage on the west coast, and coastal conservation which are under study (see
paragraphs 1.33).

C. Project Description

2.3 The components of the public sewerage system for the south coast
would be as follows:

a. a collection svstem composed of approximately 40-44 km of PVC gravity sewers, 1.4 km of PVC pressure pipe; 0.5 km
polyethylene gravity pipe, and 20 km of pipes for service connections;

b. five lift stations at Aquatic Gap, Palm Beach, Deal Gardens, Welches and Hastings. These five stations would have submersible-type pumps;

c. gi force main 1- of approximately 4.1 km of ductile iron pipe, from the pumping station at Graeme Hall to Drill Hall;

d. B was the water treatment plant and main Dump: station of approximately 27,930 m3/day of peak hydraulic capacity which would include: (i) influent and effluent pumping stations; (ii) coarse, medium and fine screening; (iii) a screening
incinerator JJ/ and a grit chamber; and (iv) odor control units;

e. ocean outflow of approximately 1.1 km seaward from Needhams’s point. The outfall works would consist of: (i) a
steel pipeline with a cement mortar lining and coal tar enamel fiberglass mat protection plus a concrete weight coat on the
outside; and (ii) a diffuser section at the end of the outfall. f. installation of connections (in-house) to properties in the
service area. (converted from PDF)


The Grenville Phillips Column – The First Domino has Fallen

Grenville Phillips II, leader of Solutions Barbados

The Government has decided that after 3 years of sewage problems in Worthing, the solution was beyond the capabilities of the Barbados Water Authority.  This is not surprising.  The Government has been degrading Engineering posts for some time.

Barbados came to a crossroads over 40 years ago.  We could have continued with our highly professional civil service that others wanted to copy, or we could copy the example of failed states and politicise ours.  Our politicians chose to politicise it.  But it was the degrading of the engineering posts that was most harmful.
The Government started putting non-engineers in engineering posts.  When Engineers complained, our politicians permanently solved this problem by abolishing all engineering posts and creating a new post called Technical Officer.  This is a root cause of Barbados’ poorly designed and high maintenance infrastructure.  Barbados needs to care about the professional development of public sector Engineers, since their work affects us all.  They can demonstrate this care by facilitating their route to Chartership.

The Ministry of public works used to have 6 Chartered Engineers, who ensured the proper design and maintenance of our roads and drainage systems.  Barbados’ water authority used to have 3 Chartered Engineers, who ensured the proper design and maintenance of our water and wastewater systems.  By 2004, there was not a single Chartered Engineer in the entire public service of Barbados.

A modern Barbados needs highly qualified Engineers to ensure that our infrastructure is designed to be as low-maintenance as possible, economically constructed with no defects, and effectively maintained to avoid customer complaints.  Without this professional management, we can expect intolerable infrastructure maintenance problems as a natural result.  This brings us to the sewage problems that have been affecting Worthing for the past 3 years.

The Government had two good options for quickly identifying and proposing a solution to the sewage problems.  They could have invited Engineers, both from within and outside of Barbados to tender for the engineering work, or they could have invited the Barbados Association of Professional Engineers to participate in the problem-solving process.

The Government chose to engage the services of consultants.  However, the final insult was to disqualify all Barbadian Engineers from tendering for the work, and exclusively select foreign consultants to solve a very simple problem.

The Auditor General keeps complaining about the audited accounts not being completed.  These accounts can be completed by any member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados.   How would accountants feel if the Government disqualified all of them from tendering for this work, and then engaged the services of a foreign consultant to displace them?

I am sure that all professions in Barbados would reasonably expect the Government, who is supposed to represent our interests, to include local professionals in the tender for any tax-payer funded work.  The Government should never be handing out no-bid contracts exclusively to foreign consultants in 2017 – we are no longer a colony.

Are the foreign consultants who have unfairly displaced Barbadian Engineers in this no-bid service to blame?  Of course not.  They are simply engaged to perform a service, completely oblivious to the harmful consequences of their engagement.  Persons who care only about their fees and nothing else are called mercenaries.

Since the Government has now embraced this path, then all professionals, especially those not yet targeted, should be very concerned.  If they choose to keep silent now, then when they are inevitably targeted, they will be no one left to speak for them.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and the founder of Solutions Barbados.  He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

The Grenville Phillips Column – South Coast Sewage Solution

It has been reported that the sewage problem in Worthing is beyond the technical capabilities of the Barbados Water Authority.  The evidence suggests that that may be so.  However, it is not beyond the technical capability of Barbados. The reason why the problem is allowed to exist is essentially a management problem, and therein lies the solution.

Seeking outside assistance is the responsible thing to do, but only after properly managing the local expertise on this matter.  The problem is not a lack of technical knowledge.  But rather, the management of this knowledge.  Let me explain.

The Auditor General regularly complains about the poor management of statutory corporations, especially in their continual failure to provide audited accounts.  Can members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados complete the accounts?  Of course they can.  The main problem is that Barbados’ resources are being poorly managed.  Is the solution to deem all local accountants not sufficiently competent and invite accounting companies from the US and China to perform the audits?  Of course not.

The Caribbean Court of Justice regularly complains about the poor management of Barbados’ court system.  Can members of the Bar Association and management consultants improve the system?  Of course they can.  But our national resources are being very poorly managed.  How would members of the local Bar Association feel if the Government invited lawyers from the US and China to displace them, and show them how it should be done?

The sewage in the streets of Worthing is evidence enough of bad management.  Can Environmental Engineers in the Barbados Association of Professional Engineers solve this problem?  Of course they can, but our national resources are being very poorly managed.  The management of our public services is so far beyond redemption that not even raw sewage regularly flowing along the streets of Worthing, for over one year, can get them to improve.

In order to provide quick relief, we offered to train all Board members and Chief Executive Officers of our statutory corporations in the customer-focused ISO 9001 quality management system.  We promised them that after 2 hours of free training, they would have both the knowledge and confidence to implement the system in their organisation the following day.

Their sacrifice of 2 hours being trained was to provide almost immediate relief to their frustrated employees and the long-suffering public.  To their utter shame, not one board member or CEO attended.  Therefore, relief from sub-standard public services must be tolerated a bit more until a Solutions Barbados administration.

Grenville Phillips II is the founder of Solutions Barbados and can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

A Shitty South Coast

Patricia Inniss, head of the Waste Unit at the BWA

For many years the South Coast of Barbados – Oistins to Worthing – has been known at home and abroad as the place to wine, dine and party by locals and tourists alike. Regrettably in the last year the South Coast has been making the news because of sewage overflowing onto public spaces; roadways, residential and business premises.

The Barbados Water Authority (BWA) engineers have tried to fix the problem with minimal success. The reality is that the sewage system in Barbados has been poorly maintained through the years and the hodgepodge approach of the BWA has been significantly affected by a lack of funds and pertinent expertise.  This conclusion was confirmed by manager of the Water Unit at the BWA yesterday on live radio. To her credit Patricia Inniss projected that she was knowledgeable in her job but has been constrained by a lack of resources and an inherited position of a poor maintenance record.

Many of us were bemused by the decision of ministers of government Richard Sealy and John Boyce to bath in the shitty waters of the South Coast in order to convince a suspicious public that all was well.

We await PR stunt number 2!

The following video  circulated on Whatsapp last weekend captures the overflowing filth onto the streets on the South Coast.


Sewage on the South Coast and TIDES

There was a very lively town hall meeting held yesterday to further ventilate on the vexing issue concerning the deterioration of the environment on the South Coast of Barbados to follow the well attended BLP political meeting held on Sunday night. Successive governments have invested heavily in education and health, the unfortunate and protracted situation playing out on the South Coast begs the BU question if the heavy investment has provided an adequate ROI.
The following comment was posted by John, a prolific commenter on the issue.

Barbados Underground

John commented on Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary Assessment Report and the South Coast Sewage Plant Connection

So, here’s my thinking at the moment.

There is a standard 3 foot increase in underground water level due solely to tidal fluctuations.

The rain falls … 6 inches plus.

The sluice gate is nailed shut for whatever reason.

It’s operation is the responsibility of the owners of Graeme Hall Plantation … GOB.

The 3 foot fluctuation now occurs on top of 5 feet due to the inability of the water to drain through the sluice gate.

So underground water levels can vary from 5 feet above a zero datum to 8 feet above that datum.

Before, the most it would increase to was 3 feet above the zero datum and that was due to due to an act of God.

Water now “springs” from unlikely places due to an act of man.

Manholes, backyards wherever it is forced by the sea it comes up.

The sewage issues, both from the plant and the development in the watershed make a bad situation worse.

Is Government liable for its handling of the sluice gate?

There is the 1945 conveyance which specifies how the owner of Graeme Hall Plantation is to operate the sluice gate.

Here is what has happened with Mrs. Burke.


She knows instinctively at 84 that the operation sluice gate has been mishandled and is one of the causes of her problems.

Her residence looks like it is closest to the zero datum

…. and then there are businesses


It is possible that like Mrs. Burke, this business is also a victim of the handling of the sluice gate?

If it is where I think it is I believe it is a victim too.

Clearly it is suffering loss and it is easily quantifiable.

Does the decision regarding liability of the GOB to the GHNS only apply in the case of the BIT or does it have implications for locals seeking redress for loss through the courts here?

Would the GOB be strictly liable to those suffering loss under the laws of Barbados?

Probably phrased it all wrong as I am not a lawyer but just applying logic which might not be legal!!

… maybe that’s why spring tides are so called!!