Water ‘Watch’

Submitted by Bentley Norville

The south coast sewage treatment plant was originally intended to be tertiary treatment.

Keithroy Halliday, General Manage, BWA

The major issue with water in Barbados is getting enough for irrigation. The requirements for water for domestic purposes can be met by the water produced by the Barbados Water Authority (BWA). There are several methods for producing additional water for irrigation. In 2014 I sent an article to Barbados Underground (BU) titled Agriculture and feeding our people.

Agriculture and Feeding Our People

Posted on by David

Submitted by Bentley Norville With all the recent and current talk on agriculture and our gargantuan food import bill a serious rethink on how we acquire our food is urgently required. With our food import bill around 800 to 900 … Continue reading →

This is one method. Also changing the antiquated methods we farm (for food crops) is another way to go. I’ve also submitted articles on this to BU.

As it relates to using water from sewage treatment plants this can also be done. There are 3 stages of sewage treatment, namely primary treatment, secondary treatment and tertiary treatment. The south coast sewage treatment plant was originally intended to be tertiary treatment (when I worked on the project back in 1983) but was later changed to primary treatment, so I’ve been informed. The final effluent from the tertiary treatment plant was supposed to have been pumped uphill near the Ministry of Agriculture compound to irrigate food crops not intended for consumption raw. This was meant as a pilot project. With the change in the plant system all this went out the window. We have adequate water in Barbados to supply our needs. The problem is not lack of water but management of our water resources. 

Continue reading

A glass of local water anyone?

Ryan Straughn
Ryan Straughn, Minister in the Ministry of Finance

The technical definition to describe Barbados being a scarce country is – “ its lack of fresh water resources, … water availability of just 306 cubic meters per capita per year, [which] makes [Barbados] the 15th most water‐scarce nation in the world”. (Forbes 2019).

Many Barbadians struggle to understand why Barbados is considered a water scarce country with rain water allowed to gush into the sea to name one concern. The blogmaster understands from the engineers it is uneconomic to trap runoff water generated from seasonal rains.

In recent days two news items related to water availability piqued the interest. Manager of Water Resources and Environmental Management Alex Ifill confirmed the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) does not have the capacity to support any increase in agri-food production. He also warned that climate change will soon adversely affect farmers currently engaged in rainfed farming.

The other point worth discussing was raised by Minister Ryan Straughn while participating at an IMF forum last week. In a nutshell the plan by government appears to treat and convert dirty water to potable. The offshore revelation has triggered negative public commentary from Barbadians who have historically been proud to promote good water quality.

Continue reading

Difficult Conversations – Paid in Ash

Last week, I described nine decisions that I would take during my first hour, if I was Prime Minister for one day. This week, I will share seven decisions that I would take within my second hour at the helm.


I would instruct Minister Edghill to provide continuous water to those who have been without water for years, within 2 weeks. This is too long overdue. Approximately 90% of the cost, effort and time to get water to the reservoir in question, is in the trenching to get the pipes in the ground. That is why it is taking years to get this done. Quick relief can be provided by running water lines temporarily on the surface, and trenching at road crossings that do not have drainage culverts.

The BWA can contract several private sector construction companies to trench across all the required intersecting roads, install pipe sleeves, and then backfill the trench. A construction crew can complete at least one intersecting road in one night – hence the need for several contractors. Once people have relief, the BWA can then resume their slow-trenching to put the mains underground.


Every household should be able to afford water for their basic needs, and have an incentive to conserve water. Therefore, I would instruct Minister Straughn to remove the Sewerage and Garbage taxes from the Basic Needs category of water use, on BWA water bills.


Barbadians should be encouraged to innovate. Therefore, I would instruct Minister Bradshaw to re-establish the national innovation competition this year – which was stopped in 2015. The prize budget for marketable prototypes, should be at least as much as that for calypsonians during the normal Crop Over competition.
I would also instruct Minister Sutherland to have the BIDC venture-partner with willing producers of marketable products from the competition, to commercialise them. This is also long overdue.


Our artists should commercialise their work. The problem is that commercialising products is both an art and a science. Business success is measured by making money from products. If you are not making money from your products, then you are not operating a business, but a charity.

I would instruct Minister King to set up a business department in the National Cultural Foundation, within one month. The business department is to be self-funded within one year. Success is to be measured by the amount of revenue generated for artists.

It is critical that this business department is not managed by politically partisan persons, with no evidence of business success. Otherwise, the department’s mission will likely be frustrated, and failure is foreseen to be certain.


It is extremely inefficient, and unnecessarily dangerous, to have persons sweeping ash and dirt from our highways. There are road vacuum trucks that are designed for that purpose.

I would instruct Minister Edghill to find where our road vacuum truck is parked, and get it into service immediately. If it cannot be found, then order another one – which may also be used to clean ash from the airport if we get another ash-fall.


Volcanic ash is sold on the Internet for around BD$5 per kg. Therefore, the ash has value. But it seems that Barbadians are being tricked into giving it away for free.

The volume of ash that can be collected from our roads and roofs is approximately 50,000 cubic metres. Assuming a bulk density of 1,000 kg/cubic metres, and a cost of $5/kg, results in a value of $250 million. Collecting only 80% of the ash results in a value of $200M.

The Government receives approximately $175M in land taxes each year. The Government instructed Barbadians to collect the ash, and give it to the Government without compensation. Therefore, I would instruct Minister Straughn not to demand land taxes in 2021 – since it has already been paid in ash.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

The Right to Clean Water


Submitted by Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in U.S.

March 22 is World Water Day

Water is wealth. Without water life would not endure. Access to water and sanitation is a precondition to life and a declared human right.

“For many of us, clean water is so plentiful and readily available that we rarely, if ever, pause to consider what life would be like without it.”—Marcus Samuelsson

The right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life is a declaration by the United Nations General Assembly adopted in 2013.

World Water Day, held on 22 March every year since 1993, focuses on the importance of freshwater. World Water Day celebrates water and raises awareness of the 2.2 billion people living without access to safe water. It is about taking action to tackle the global water crisis. A core focus of World Water Day is to support the achievement of water and sanitation for all by 2030. Will those who are working for the good of humanity be able to achieve the goal of fresh water for all on planet earth?

In order to accelerate initiatives aimed at addressing the challenges related to water resources, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 2018-2028 as the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development.”

“At a most basic level, human beings cannot survive without water. Equally important is sanitation, a lack of which negatively affects our quality of life and claims the lives of millions each year,” declared Miroslav Lajčák, President of the General Assembly of the United Nations. Lajčák continued, “While cooperation at the international level remains important, governments bear the primary responsibility to meet water and sanitation needs of their populations. Water and sanitation need to be mainstreamed into national development planning and budgeting processes, and must include sustainable use and efficiency, address wastewater, promote education and raise awareness.”

“Freshwater is the most important resource for mankind, cross-cutting all social, economic and environmental activities. It is a condition for all life on our planet, an enabling or limiting factor for any social and technological development, a possible source of welfare or misery, cooperation or conflict.” www.en.unesco.org.

The World Water Council (WWC) considers the formulation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be an endeavor of the highest importance for the achievement of water security throughout the world, which is crucial for a prosperous and equitable future for humankind.

Help inspire action to achieve the 2030 Agenda by joining thousands of other people on World Water Day (22nd March) and World Toilet Day (19th November) to raise awareness of the water and sanitation crises and exert public pressure for change.

“We have the ability to provide clean water for every man, woman and child on the Earth. What has been lacking is the collective will to accomplish this. What are we waiting for? This is the commitment we need to make to the world, now.”—Jean-Michel Cousteau

Water NOT Running

This is a follow up on an earlier blog Water Running.

The blogmaster is pleased update the BU family that the authorities fixed the pipes at the location. On behalf of the BU household we thank the civic minded BU family member for taking the time to highlight the matter AND the relevant authorities for responding.

Screenshot 2019-11-28 at 04.24.57

Water Running

Submitted by a conscientious and civic minded BU family member

I am one of those who has been called upon to pay the price of a utility company gone mad and the subsequent fallout.

We have been without water for the past three days, so this afternoon I drove over to Dover Beach in order to replenish dwindling supplies of this precious commodity from the public shower located there.

When I arrived, one of the three showers was already running at full blast although no one was in the immediate area. I proceeded to fill my containers and upon completion, I did as any conscientious person would do, I attempted to turn off the tap.

The accompanying video tells the story.

Now I don’t know if any person or organization within the immediate area has notified BWA, but there are numerous food providers and bars all within a stones throw, as can be seen in the video. There is even a manned life guard station. I don’t know how long this situation has been in existence, but when I hear that we are a water scarce country, when I and my family go without water for three days and then I see this, it gets me very angry.

I hasten to add that government has provided the public and visitors alike with free facilities for all to enjoy the beautiful beaches with which we are blessed. What manner of uncouth human being would be so crass as to abuse the free taxpayer funded showers by stealing all three shower heads and damaging the faucets in such a manner.

Will the newly acquired buses fare any better?

Would anyone care to estimate how much water is being wasted per hour just at this location?

Scientists to the Rescue!

Is this something Barbados authorities should be investigating?

Should out of the box thinking be prioritized?

Every year we have to endure the same process of a water prohibition because aquifers dry up.

How do we improve the situation?

A man built a homemade machine to bring endless water to the Bahamas. You already know the science

Homemade machine could provide clean water to Bahamas 00:54

(CNN)He designed a machine that makes water from the air. Now, after Hurricane Dorian, he’s trying to bring it to the Bahamas.

Moses West, of San Antonio, Texas, has brought water to Flint, Michigan, and Puerto Rico — all through his Atmospheric Water Generation machines, which extract moisture from the atmosphere and turn it into water.
The science behind it is similar to what many learned in elementary school. It’s really just condensation — the same thing that creates moisture when you breathe on a window, for example.
It’s just done on a much, much larger scale.
Have a look at this link:
Thanks to FearPlay for sharing this link.

Another a related note the blogmaster congratulates Bajan scientist Dr. Shima Holder. We need more scientists involved in national problem solving.


Screenshot 2019-09-19 at 00.14.58.png

Garbage Pile Up Water Shortage Pon De Replay

Barbadians have been drilled from primary school that we are a water scarce country. There is a technical definition, a simple translation is the lack of available water resources to meet demand. In Barbados there are three reasons to explain the predicament we find ourselves- change in climatic conditions adversely affecting water catchment, a growing demand for potable water AND poor management of available water resources.

In 2016 or thereabouts a  water shortage severely affected the North of the island and gave rise to a citizen group calling itself the Water Warriors- there was talk then as there is now- that solutions were/are in the pipeline.  It is 2019 and if we listen to the cries of citizens about the lack running water, the problem appears to have gotten worse.

People pay taxes to ensure critical services like water, waste disposal, transportation and a few others are efficiently supplied by government. The fact that we continue to demonstrate the poorest management that forces citizens to embarrass themselves by making public cries is unacceptable.  Can we honestly label ourselves an educated people if we continue to mismanage our affairs to this degree?

Here is a reminder of short and longer term solutions promised in 2016 by the then Minister of Water Resources David Estwick.

  • The Barbados Water Authority has put in an order for eight additional water tankers to provide potable water for residents of St Joseph, St Andrew and St John.
  • The tankers will take the BWA complement to 13, and they should be in Barbados in about two months.
  • The BWA is presently rehabilitating a well at Groves in St George aimed at providing an additional 500 000 gallons of water to the Golden Ridge/Castle Grant system which supplies the northern parishes.
  • The BWA has also completed a new pumping station at the Lazaretto, Black Rock, St Michael which allows it to push desalinated water down the island’s west coast into the St Peter system to get water to St Peter and St Lucy until the completion of the Northern Upgrade project which was started under a previous administration.
  • The St Philip Water Augmentation project to find additional water to alleviate shortages in the south of Barbados will be commissioned next Wednesday, allowing the BWA access to an additional 3.5 million gallons of water per day, some of which will be pushed to St Joseph, via Bowmanston in St John – Nationnews

The Ionics desalination plant was also upgraded and contracted by government to augment the supply of water.

The majority of middleclass Barbadians have invested in water storage facilities, it is always the poor and vulnerable who are exposed by the chronic mismanagement by authorities.

The same lament can be repeated to explain the garbage pileup across the country. We hear the excuses and promises from Minister of the Environment Trevor Prescod that new garbage trucks will be deployed shortly.  However sensible people are asking what is the backup plan. Is there a good case to contract private waste-haulers to assist with short term waste collection? Do not forget there is a systemic problem to be solved of implementing a waste management plan. Dumping garbage in a landfill is a primitive waste disposal solution and exposes successive governments for the inability to implement relevant solutions.  The current flare up by sanitation workers is another symptom of mismanagement of our national affairs.

The quality of debate in this space and elsewhere means we can anticipate political operatives tossing the usual vacuous barbs to defend narrow political interest. This is where we are and where we will will continue to be as a nation- a country in decline if…

Crisis in the Making: Water Woes Continue


I do share your concerns about the quality of general management and strategic planning in both the Public and Private sectors. It calls for more thinking and insightful use of information. Too many employees find this hard to do. Independence implies taking responsibility. No one wants to do that, because of fear of failure. Why is that so?

– Vincent Codrington

It continues to be a puzzlement for the blogmaster why the former government constructed a headquarters for a reported 50 million dollars give a take a few million. A commonsense perspective would have been to appreciate that with 100 year old mains a part of the distribution network, better use of scarce resources would have been to aggressively implement the pipe replacement project. Instead the country had to endure the embarrassment of Barbados Water Authority (BWA) and Barbados Workers Union (BWU) locked in negotiations about this that and the other for months.

Those of us who have been around town long enough are aware that capital works projects create the opportunity for friends to share in the fatted calf. Many blogs have been posted about the mismanagement and lack of strategic thinking at the BWA AND other state owned entities. However, when all is said and done fingers point back to the governments of the day.

The issuance of a prohibition notice by the BWA caught our eye this week. It is no secret Barbados is categorized as a water scarce country. It is also no secret Barbados has been experiencing drought conditions in recent months. It was therefore a shocker to listen to members of the general public and others in civil society questioning why the BWA had not issue a prohibition order earlier to encourage efficient water usage. It appears to the uninformed that public cries to prohibit the use of water for non critical activities galvanized the BWA into action.

If water is a precious water resource should decision-making by key stakeholders not reflect it?

The public is being told one of the measures being pursued to ensure adequate supply of water is to boost production at Ionics desalination plant. The blogmaster recalls the Auditor General in a special audit of the BWA noted that in the Ionics agreement with the government of Barbados had committed to pay Ionics a guaranteed amount whether the BWA had the capacity to receive the amount or not? It was also noted that BWA did not have the capacity to receive water paid for  at the time.

Here are relevant blogs to serve as a refresher:

Another bit of information which caught the ear of the blogmaster from the mouth of the prime minister last week is that she wants the BWA to penetrate the lucrative bottle water market in order to sustain its revenue base. We will park this for now.

Every year do we have to listen to rehashed excuses from the authorities? The rain is not falling to replenish the reservoirs,  Old pipes are springing links and posing a challenge to be repaired, pipes in certain areas need flushing because of old pipes etc etc etc. We need to construct desalination plants.

Water warriors please fall in for another tour of duty!



Barbadians Suffering from Fatigue with a Capital F


Fruendel Stuart (l) Denis Lowe (r) – the buck stops with Prime Minister Stuart.


And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land King James Bible

For 7 years plus the Barbados economy has been contracting. The country has been running a deficit on current account. We have had to significantly reduce capex. And this is despite raking in unprecedented levels of revenue if the reporting from the relevant government agencies are accepted. There is a resignation by Barbadians to the fact those charged with managing the economy seem are unable to do so. The discussions everywhere is whether this is due to incompetence or other reasons.

If we are to buyin to the government’s mantra that we should strive to build a society not an economy, ‘recent’ developments in the country have served to challenge this objective.  As if carrying the weight of an nonperforming economy on their backs like the proverbial albatross has not been the greatest burden- there is the evidence daily of the country’s infrastructure crumbling before our eyes. The sick South Coast Sewage Plant has occupied the newsfeeds on the domestic and international front in recent months. The prime minister FINALLY addressed the issue frontally by informing the country this week a request has been submitted to the IADB and experts to assist Barbados in addressing the problem. Bear in mind the leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley had informed the prime minister this was a problem waiting to happen two years ago. Like how most issues are dealt with in Barbados the politically expedient decision was taken, she was ignored.

Can you imagine this is the government that was this close to foisting a gasification plant on an island nation the size of which had never been built anywhere on planet earth?

After 7 years plus of economic famine, 2 plus years of a leaky sewage plant on the South Coast- today the local US Embassy slap Barbados with an advisory.

Event: Recent tests at several U.S. Embassy residences revealed bacteria at elevated levels in the tap water.  As a precautionary measure, the U.S. Embassy recommended to its staff to boil their drinking water or use bottled water.  The U.S. Embassy will continue to monitor the situation and will provide updates accordingly.

Actions to Take:


We are a few weeks from a general election being called, clearly decision making by the government will be steeped in political consideration and antithetical to what is in the national interest. Even if the government by some miracle is able to fix the problem in the weeks before the general election there is the memory of a fatigue public to factor and anticipating how they will respond on election day.

The BU household cannot wait for election day to arrive!

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.

Water is a Basic Human Right, No to Hike!

Submitted by Anthony Davis

It’s either privatization or an increase in water rates!” That was the warning issued last night by economist Jeremy Stephen during a University of the West Indies-sponsored panel discussion on The Future of Water in Barbados in the Henry Fraser Lecture Theatre…”People would have conserved a lot better,” he contended – page 7 of BARBADOS TODAY dated March 22, 2017

Pray tell me, Mr. Economist, how does it feel to be earning so much money, yet wanting to put the burden on the poor, the needy, and the vulnerable? Why must they be made to pay more and more for everything in this country?

Barbados is supposed to be a water scarce country, yet this Government is willing to allow a 15-storey monstrosity to be planted on Browne’s Beach right opposite Bethel Methodist church.

Where will they get their water from?

Are they being allowed to build their own water and waste facilities?

Will they have their own desalination plant?

Stop putting the blame on the populace of this country for the wasting of water, when the hotels use the most water, Mr. Stephen!

How many houses have 100 or more rooms?

How many houses have more than one swimming pool?

How many houses have more than one bar?

How about facilities like tennis courts, and golf greens?

How about the number of showers and jacuzzis?

Where does all of that water come from?

Many tourists will take a dip in the ocean about three times a day, and then go and stand under the shower for at least 15 minutes each time.

Water is a human right, Mr. Stephen, so any time you seek to put the poor, the needy and the vulnerable at a disadvantage where they cannot pay the high rates for that commodity, you may be looking at defending your case before an international court or the WHO.

I note that you said that there should be some way of tax relief for low income earners, but that legislation would take some time, because Government would have to determine who would be covered by such legislation.

As you know, elections are due next year and it’s not feasible for Government to carry out such an exercise which will determine who will need the necessary help in the time left.

The last time they wanted to hike the water rates Dennis Kellman came up with the ludicrous statement that the populace of this country were the ones who wasted the water, knowing full well that that was a terminological inexactitude.

Now you want to come with the same fairy tale.

Tourist liners take on thousands of gallons of water.

Freighters take on a great deal of water also.

So do the various aircraft.

Add that all together, and come again and tell me that we waste the most water.

We do no such thing, Mr. Stephen!

This goes not only for you, but everyone who comes with the same cock and bull story just because you think a rate hike for our water is the best thing to stop the populace of this country from wasting that precious and valuable commodity.

Now, on the same page and in the same issue under the headline “Govt Senator dismisses ‘untruth about tourist spend“, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Irene Sandiford-Garner today described as ‘fake news’ reports that visitor spend had declined, even as tourist arrivals had reached a record high in 2016.

“There was an estimated US $167.41 (last year) compared to US $164.40 (in 2015) which was spent by the average visitor.”

What are you bragging about Mrs. Sandiford-Garner?

That’s a mere US $3 more per visitor in 2016!

How much does that do for the forex of this country?

I think it’s high time for a hotel and condominium moratorium in Barbados!

To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay right or justice.” – Magna Carta

Water Strategy Required

Reproduced from Andrew Simpson’s Facebook page.

water_nitrateYesterday I attended, as a member of BAPE; on the invitation of the BWA, a meeting to address water scarcity and to build a roadmap toward achieving water security. Dr Mwansa made a presentation which was prepared by Anthony Headley that outlined hydrological, regulatory and universal understanding. Accepting that Barbados is deemed a ‘water scarce’ country, based on the precipitation which can be accessed, clearly demonstrated the importance for careful management and wise utilization of this precious resource.

Along with the design, development and maintenance of a system to adequately harvest and store fresh water, with which our nation is naturally endowed; it was clear that the need to reduce, reuse and recycle equally relates to water; as it does to packaging and other lifestyle outputs. The idea of resource self-sufficiency must form part of the solution, with commercial / household USE of rainwater catchment, by way of implementing dual plumbing techniques along with any overflow being directed to the aquifer by using boreholes. In order that waste (grey water) be applied to suitable purposes; and for sewage (black water) to be recovered with treatment technologies where applicable, it is accepted that a national initiative will be required. A greater appreciation of the true value of piped water, in the meantime, is believed by many, to hold the greatest reductive potential for this scarce commodity. Such achievement can be immediate, by the GOB, through the PUB and FTC, implementing a tiered rate structure which attempts to place true value on the price tag for potable water. A doubling, trebling and quadrupling even, of the rate paid for consumption bands above essentially acceptable usage, based on the number of occupants in a household, or as otherwise qualified by acreage under food production, etc. would cause conservation and regeneration efforts to quickly follow.

Much technical writing is widely read and understood, thanks to our enviable education system, but exercise of practical knowledge seems rare. This conundrum is not specific but exists across the social spectrum. Stakeholders must unite in discovery and endeavor to join hands, link minds and bind hearts to rectify this dilemma. Most citizens acknowledge that the surrounding circumstances are less than ideal. The press and social media are reaching large segments society but somehow; the reality is not “hitting home” to those charged with the power to alter the way we react, as a people; toward the suffering of OTHERS. Is it a human callousness; a refusal to accept that we can do better, or simply that too many of us are so caught up in the mire of a frantic existence, that our sensitivity is diminished? This brings me, to what I believe to be, the heart of the matter – an ideological deficiency causing our perceived identity to be at odds with our true reality. The major underlying reason for this is an excess of socialist undertaking hampering the opportunity for true market freedom to manifest. The prosperity which naturally goes hand in hand with responsibility, to sustainably manage our natural resources and the environment around us, is being denied.

The challenge, at this historical juncture, is to build consensus, to correct anomalies that ‘encourage unhealthy practices’ while incentivizing right behaviors, to forge a way of life that balances tastes and economic provision. We must determine to work as a TEAM, toward this imperative. The faith exercised thus far, by our people has enabled our Nation to advance by leaps and bounds, over the course of the last fifty years, but has created a downside which needs to be managed. The interest costs alone, required to service the debt which successive governments have ‘chalked up’, has become unbearable. Coupled with the ongoing appetite for increased salaries, wages and conditions associated with the ‘army of occupation’ supposedly needed to provide these services, to which we have apparently become accustomed, are financially unsustainable.

A paradigm shift, in the way that the ‘ship of state’ is operated, and a course change, now desperately required, must be undertaken. The father of our independence, The Right Honorable Errol Walton Barrow, in his famous “Mirror Image” speech, suggested that we consider what image we have of ourselves. This sentiment; no, this ultimatum is more pertinent now than ever. “All hands on deck” must be the battle cry of ALL, if we are to move ever forward.
God Bless Barbados.

More Water Problems for the BLACK(man) from St. James


This photo represents a burst BWA pipe leaking at the back of my wall for months. The inconsiderate BWA work crew for work #499557 did the clumsy job of repair by cutting the pipe where it was not leaking, placed a joint but left the leak under the wall worse – Backman.

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – The Politics of Water Security

Safe drinking water and adequate sanitation are crucial for poverty reduction, crucial for sustainable development and crucial for achieving any and every one of the Millennium Development Goals. – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

Jeff Cumberbatch - Chairman of the FTC and Deputy Dean, Law Faculty, UWI, Cave Hill

Jeff Cumberbatch – Chairman of the FTC and Deputy Dean, Law Faculty, UWI, Cave Hill

It should be easy for most Barbadians to sympathize, or perhaps even empathize, with the plight of the residents of those local districts who have had to endure a regrettable lack of piped water to their homes in recent months. It certainly is no laughing matter when one is forced to endure the discomfort and displeasure of not being able to flush a toilet by a mere press of the plunger or unable to take a shower at the end of a long hot day. The “bathe-up” or standpipe baths and gatherings of bygone Barbados ought not to be an imperative for the contemporary taxpayer. To add insult to injury, it has been reported that bills, more than nominal in some cases, continue to be issued to these long-suffering individuals for water usage by the Barbados Water Authority.

It is equally easy, if one is so inclined, to use this unfortunate circumstance as an opportunity to bash the hapless administration in office and to classify its occurrence, as has been done by more than a few, as an example of poor governance, of poor leadership, an abdication of ministerial responsibility or a heady cocktail of all the above.

At one level, the state does bear ultimate responsibility if this “essential service” should not be supplied to all citizens without discrimination. According to several of the international conventions that we have ratified, ensuring the national supply of safe, potable water is an express state obligation. For example, under Article 24 (2)(c) of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), States parties are required to pursue full implementation of this right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures: … (c) To combat disease and malnutrition, including within the framework of primary health care, through, inter alia, the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking water [Emphasis added].

And Article 14 (2) of the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) mandates states parties to “take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas to ensure…to women the right: … [h] To enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications.” [Emphasis added]

Other conventions such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights also recognize the right to water as an international human right, obligating the state to ensure to its citizens the supply of sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses.

At another level, however, the state may lawfully claim exemption from this obligation where the failure in supply is owed to circumstances such as an Act of God or nature (drought or endemic water scarcity); act or default of another for whom the state assumes no responsibility; or where the failure is otherwise exempted by law so that the claim to an absolute entitlement in any circumstance whatsoever does not arise.

So far as the first is concerned, it may very well be that this condition currently subsists, although the people from the affected districts would not be acting unreasonably to query why the onus of this drought should fall on them unequally.

Nor can the state fairly place the blame on the Barbados Water Authority that, although not constitutionally part of the Crown, bears practically a sufficiently subordinate role thereto as to be considered integrated into the state machinery.

It bears mention in this regard nevertheless, that much of the blame for the recent happenings has been placed on the inherently defective and ancient mains that are currently undergoing replacement. To the extent that this is an ongoing process stretching across the change of governing administrations, it would be clearly inequitable to place all the blame for the delayed achievement of this initiative on the current administration. The partisan ascription of blame, though perhaps electorally beneficial in future, does little to relieve the current insecurity of the affected citizens.

I accept that the figurative horse is well and truly out of the stable, and that from now until the elections bell is rung by the Prime Minister, most civic failings will be seen in a partisan light against the party that comprises the current administration. This is par for the course and, I suppose, those concerned who are far more knowledgeable than I am in these matters will seek to apply and to resist this onslaught as forcefully as may be practicable.

“It is clear that the solutions to the delivery of water and sanitation for all are fundamentally political in nature and not just technical. The need for opening the “Water Tap” for transparency, accountability and participation is vital as we face the rapid increase of urbanization and the frightening implications of climate change for our scarce water resources”-George, Nhlapo and Waldorf- “The politics of achieving the Right to water” (2011)

Water Rights Violated!

Submitted by Anthony Davis

David Estwick

David Estwick – minister responsible for water

Taps in some districts in Boscobel, St. Peter, have been dry since May this year, yet some residents continue to receive Barbados Water Authority bills as high as $238 in some cases. – Barbados Today

Continue reading

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – Strange Interpretations (ii)

Jeff Cumberbatch - New Chairman of the FTC

Jeff Cumberbatch – Chairman of the FTC

BU shares the Jeff Cumberbatch Barbados Advocate column – Senior Lecturer in law at the University of the West Indies since 1983, a Columnist with the Barbados Advocate

MUSINGS: Strange interpretations (ii)

The Second Amendment has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud…[…] Continue reading

Dumping In The Belle, a Zone 1 Area

BU understands government trucks attempted to dump in the Belle recently

As far back as 2008 the government expressed concern about the high level of nitrates in Barbados’ underground water supply. To quote a Nation newspaper report of 1/10/2008, “the level of the compound, which has no colour, odour or taste, is within World Health Organisation (WHO) stipulations, but high enough to cause rising concern. Minister of Health Jerome Walcott made these disclosures Sunday evening when he gave a report on his portfolio to more than 400 people gathered at Foundation School.” 

In light of the foregoing, it is unacceptable that government vehicles would be among those caught DUMPING at the Belle – a Zone 1 site – while Minister Denis Lowe is reported to be attending a UNEP Conference on Chemical Management in Nairobi, Africa. The truck drivers should be complimented however for adhering to instructions NOT to dump in the Belle, BU understands the drivers headed to the authorized landfill.

All should be reminded that nature has a funny way of exacting recompense.  BU takes this opportunity to CONGRATULATE two young Barbadians who participated in a clean up exercise on the weekend. And they say the children shall lead them.

Barbados Water Management In A Mess

The recent appointment of former Senator Arni Walters as Executive Chairman of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) has raised more than a few eye-brows. Given his extensive experience working in the labour market, one would have assumed his skills would have been needed in the position he was just removed. After all, the economy is expected to contract over the near term in a global economy which continues to behave sluggish. The other side to the argument some say, the government sees the organizational restructuring and transformation needed at a BWA in shambles as priority number one.

The poor state of the  financial and management structure at the BWA which has reached a crisis state  in recent months is an embarrassment to the country to say the least. It seems idiotic that during the boom years this most important state enterprise would have been neglected to the point which led it to being insolvent under the current administration. Perhaps Barbadians should have taken note when the BWA was excluded from the oversight of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) when it was established under the former government. The argument given for the exclusion by some at the time was  that the government wanted to shield the less well off in the society from water rates driven by purely economic considerations. Given the financial state at the BWA it is conceivable that an FTC imposed rate may have been more burdensome.

The decision by the government at the time to enter into an agreement with Ionics Freshwater Ltd in hindsight was part of an ad hoc water management strategy at best. The Ionics water desalination plant is designed to provide fresh, potable drinking water to one-sixth of the island’s 264,000 people. The 30,000 cubic meter per day (7.9 million gallons per day) plant utilizes reverse osmosis (RO) membrane technology. We learned recently from Minister Lowe who has responsibility for the BWA that the government is contracted to pay Ionics Freshwater Ltd 10 million dollars annually. Minister Lowe expressed the view the price is too high. We all look forward to when the agreement expires originally set for 15 years.

Continue reading

Michael Pritchard Makes Filthy Water Potable

Michael Pritchard Bio: With cutting-edge nanotech, Michael Pritchard’s Lifesaver water-purification bottle could revolutionize water-delivery systems in disaster-stricken areas around the globe.

The furore about the 60% hike in the water rates in Barbados made effective from  July 1, 2009 seems to have gone the way of the seven day wonder. The disregard which Barbadians have had for water management at the residential or national level is well known. Let us face it, water does not rank very high on our list of priorities, why should it, we are a water scarce country.

Good news is here, watch the video!

What Is The Song And Dance About The Hike In Water Rates?

Hartley Henry - DLP Political Strategist

Hartley Henry - DLP Political Strategist

Two separate but yet related matters sparked my attention this past week. First, there was the predictable hue and cry from “professional opposers” to the increase in water rates. Second, there was Barrack Jagdeo swiping and getting clean bowled by his fellow countrymen.

It is clear to me that if water rates had been increased by five cents a gallon the reaction of some in our midst would have been the same.

What took the cake for me in the gas station last Sunday afternoon was this known Barbados Labour Party operative and spokesman who approached me, in their usual arrogant and bombastic manner, claiming that “the new water rates will kill poor people”.

My intended response would have been to set forth the argument in favour of the need for an increase in rates, given the magnitude of the capital development programme about to be undertaken by the Authority as well as the ongoing desire to enhance both the quality of and accessibility to the resource. I am sure I could have made a compelling argument, but this gentleman gave me the perfect opening when, in approaching me he armed himself with nothing less than a two litre bottle of water, which, from the label, I became aware was bottled in Trinidad and Tobago.

I deliberately asked him to buy me a similar drink, because quietly I wanted to discover the price he had so willingly paid a few seconds ago for imported drinking water. The price at the register was $3.40.

Continue reading

The Water Debate: Opposition Party Advises Government To “Hold Strain”

barbadoswaterauthorityIt is interesting to listen to the current debate triggered by the government’s decision to hike water rates by 60% effective July 1, 2009. In a previous blog we skimmed the subject of some of the challenges facing the BWA.

Barbados has been able to achieve and maintain a relatively high standard of living through what many agree can be attributed to astute planning and leadership. We have also enjoyed a stable social and political climate built on a universally respected education system, good infrastructure to support our tourism product and Barbadians. Those who may want to avoid partisan posturing on the issue would admit that there is a cost to maintaining the Barbados lifestyle. The challenge as we move forward as a country is to ensure the economic and social models underpinning the economy are managed expertly to ensure sustainability.

The failure of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) in 2009, we understand it is close to being insolvent just fourteen months after a change in government is instructive. Bear in mind that the previous government would have governed for the most part of its tenure in an economic boom period. It is noteworthy that as a country and as a people we must accept responsibility for the policies of the previous government, this is true for the third term government of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP). Could the BLP have better allocated resources to ensure Barbados’ water supply was better protected? Many may say yes given it was a boom period.

Continue reading

Barbados Water Authority: A Failed State Enterprise

water_nitratePrime Minister David Thompson announced in his recent Financial Statement 2009 that water rates will be increased to Barbadians, possibly as soon as next month. Although the Prime Minister has given the assurance that any increase will be negligible, the  impact must be judged by government on how the increase will affect Barbadians who are below the poverty line and businesses that use water as a significant input to production, we would urge the government to thread with care on this matter.

The revelation by the Prime Minister has triggered a side-debate about  the BWA not falling under the oversight of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC), an institution which remains pregnant with promise to consumers well passed its gestation period.  It is our understanding that the current legislation prohibits the FTC from hearing complaints from government enterprises. Our source confirms that there is a move afoot to change the legislation.

BU understands the thinking and motive of the previous to shielding the BWA and by extension the people of Barbados from a privately run BWA. BU can also understand that oversight of the BWA by the political directorate would more readily feel the pressure to keep water rates down. The experience so far of the FTC and LIME, formerly Cable & Wireless has not been a rewarding one for Barbadian consumers. One shudders to think if the BWA were privatized where would the water rate settle.

Continue reading

Former Barbados Government Rejected Blue Flag Membership

Blue Flag Image

We have received an email from a Barbadian who is very concerned the tap and marine water quality in and around Barbados may not be all that it is ‘cracked-up’ to be. We feel that this is a reasonable conclusion based on the information to follow on the blog. The Barbadian is very concerned that her children and those of other Barbadians who love to frolic in the water off our beautiful beaches maybe doing so at some risk.

The story begins about 3 years ago when the Barbados government was offered Euros 60,000, which included technical assistance, to undertake a study which would test not only our water quality but beach quality and other environmental factors. As BU understands it, the offer was unconditional with the process of testing estimated to last about one year. For some unexplained reason the former Owen Arthur government did not want the water quality statistics published or printed, and so the project was scrapped.

Here is a quote returned by the Blue Flag Coordinator in response to the query from the concerned Barbadian about the status of Blue Flag:

Continue reading