Barbados starts to modernize water infrastructure

David Estwick

David Estwick, the Barbados Minister of Agriculture and Water Resource Management, has announced plans to modernize the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) infrastructure, starting with the rebuilding of the sewage system.

Estwick noted the level of development on the South Coast has increased drastically since the Sewage Plant was first put into use back in the 1990’s and the system was now old, archaic and failing.

“So we are now facing infrastructure issues and future capacity issues and one of the things, I am going to thrust going forward is to modernize our wastewater and waste systems development.”

Additional upgrades to the Sewage Plant, Estwick said, will involve the tertiary treatment of sewage after which aquifer recharge will be introduced.

“We have to stop moving to treat water and sending it out into the ocean. We are moving to treat our sewage and our effluents to tertiary standards and then introduce aquifer recharge. No longer will we be sending three-million gallons of water into the ocean that can be brought back on land to supplement the water in our aquifers,”Estwick said.

Estwick explained that a study conducted in 1995 on water loss and water management, showed that Barbados was consuming between 98 and 99 percent of water within the aquifer base, which has an average rainfall of 57 inches a year. He said it was critical for the BWA to address the supply side of water management so as to mitigate potential for droughts and water scarcities.

“The town planner now urged that now we’re abstracting 99.5 percent, so any slight reduction in rainfall and we have a drought. In that context, I then have to use every available tool to make sure that the supply side is managed. So when we are building out our sewage system they must now go to tertiary capacity and we will be introducing aquifer recharge,” he said.

He said it was clear that the BWA could no longer depend on rainfall for its potable water supply and as a result, the ministry will be pushing ahead with the construction of two desalination plants. One of which is in the process of approval by the Town Planning Department, while the other is undergoing a hydro-geology study.