Barbados Government Triumph! – Plastic Water Drums Are Blue, With Faucet!

Barbados_Water_Drum_2006.jpg

Sometimes I get so angry, but other times I just want to weep – for the tragedy of Barbados citizens whose expectations have been driven so low that they are reduced to being grateful for a plastic water drum.

Scraps tossed from the table of those who are spending a third of a billion dollars on a few weeks of cricket.

A Legacy Of Government Neglect & Closely Held Information

We are having an interesting discussion about water here at Barbados Free Press and throughout the island – and we are all talking in the dark because the government reports on water quality, water loss and distribution issues just don't seem to be available for interested citizens.

The government could place every water report online tomorrow at the Government Information website if it chose to do so. Let us see the water quality reports. Let us see the distribution leakage reports – and the quality reports of samples taken from the taps at the end of 150 year-old watermains. (Dr. Duguid of the Barbados Labour Party explained in earlier comments that some of the water mains are over 150 years old)

In a previous article, we had talked about sewage impacting the natural ground water supply and were taken to task by some readers. Now, some of the same readers who took us to task for stating that sewage was a part of "nutrient enrichment" contamination of ground water are telling us that indeed, there is a problem with water-borne sewage from My Lord's Hill contaminating the ground water supply.

And around and around we go – all of us seeking to interpret snippets of information from newspaper articles as the government limits information to selected 10 second soundbites during photo-ops.

But we do know the following for the residents of My Lord's Hill…

After 12 years of a Government in power…

No new piping. No new standpipes. No new sewage disposal system. For years, some poorer residents have been storing their daily water in open buckets, with the associated health and sanitary problems.

Now… years later, the Minister of Social Transformation and MP for the area, Trevor Prescod, shows up with 50 gallon blue plastic water drums.

"Here you go folks! Free! And the drums are very special… they have lids and faucets! You lucky lucky people!"

Big Press Conference. Big Photo Op…

Big Story Headline in The Nation News "Water Made Safer For My Lord's Hill Residents"

A government that is twelve years in power. A third of a billion dollars and more being spent on cricket. Millions and millions lost in the GEMS of Barbados hotel scam. Dozens of government projects that have come in at 300% over budget like it is just a normal event.

Millions and millions for one folly after another by a Government that is twelve years in power – but no clean water and no plans for clean water for the unfortunate working class Bajans at My Lord's Hill.

"Just drive by and toss some plastic water drums off the back of the BLP party truck. That should hold them past this next election"

Scraps tossed from the table.

photo credit: The Nation News, under the "fair-use" provisions. 

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38 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Environment, Island Life, Politics & Corruption

38 responses to “Barbados Government Triumph! – Plastic Water Drums Are Blue, With Faucet!

  1. While this Plastic can is probably better than what the lady had before, it makes me wonder why in the year 2007 this is happening in Barbados.

    I have had running water in every house I lived in since about 1960 and I thought that every house in Barbados in 2007 had connections to BWA systems.

    I hope the BLP will fix the grassroots problems after the next election. The Rich can take care of themselves.

  2. titilayo

    Not a rhetorical question: was it that the water pipes were contaminated, or that water-borne sewage from that area (Ivy, My Lord’s Hill, Licorish Village, etc.) was thought to be posing a threat to water quality in the Belle catchment and the drinking water supply from the Belle well? I thought that was the situation; I’ve never heard anything about contaminated water pipes before today (and the Nation article doesn’t say anything about contamination in the water pipes either).

    The whole thing about more stand-pipes not being in keeping with the progression of the country, I found that funny/ironic.

  3. BFP

    Hi Hants

    According to the Nation article linked to in our post, the problem is the BWA water pipes in the area. For years, they have been so contaminated that they cannot be used.

    It is all about priorities – and after 12 years in power, no government that has failed to act on something so basic can be judged as competent.

    The trouble is… where is the replacement? The DLP? The PEP?

  4. titilayo

    BFP: please, please be more careful when you are presenting material from outside sources. The Nation article didn’t say that the water pipes were contaminated. It said:

    Because of its location in the Zone 1 water catchment area, a decision was taken years ago not to have any more installations of piped water in the district after scientific studies showed there was an increase in contamination of the water, bordering on acceptable levels of the World Health Standards.

    An increase in contamination in the water in the Belle Zone 1 water catchment area (levels of contamination have declined in more recent years, I believe; I don’t think they have reached/exceed the World Health standards), not in the supply pipes. There is nothing in that article that says that either the water or the pipes are so contaminated they can’t be used. They put a prohibition on piped water to prevent water-borne sewage from flush toilets from entering the Belle catchment (the Belle is the island’s single largest water supply, I believe). There is a similar restriction in the Harrison’s Cave area to protect the water quality in the Cave, I think.

    I am not debating, one way or another, what I believe to be the point of your article. But I honestly think that, if you want to be seen as credible, you have to make more of an effort to present the background information accurately, rather than disseminating flawed information, based on faulty interpretation of your sources.

  5. faulty interpretation you say, how about misinterpretation? and base on there reply to you stand ready to add “deliberately” 😀

    …..This is sad: and just the other day i was joking i think on the BLP blog about the Cynthia Forde suggesting that those who can pay should be made to pay for healthcare, and that the same attitude could lead to the suggestion that persons install there own water tanks as is done in Trinidad. I don’t think it is a bad idea in general and from a conservation perpective but the authorities should be taken to task if it is suggested to the folks up north, and again for not presenting the danger that household in the belle area pose to the rest of the country, and that has led this oversize saltmeat bucket solution in modern Barbados, but like much of everything in Barbados and from all sides everything is broach in poor vs. rich, white vs. black and you cannot challegne interpretations either. The GoB has no excuse having ownership of media resourses for not putting the case front and center and for as long as needed, as to why these folks should be remove from the belle, as they should have been remove from lakes folly for other reasons for not articulating the strategy for B-town with regards to vending, instead of letting things fester.

  6. titilayo

    Okay. Let me be very clear.

    You did not state in your previous article on water “that sewage was a part of “nutrient enrichment” contamination of ground water”. If your statement had been that moderate, I would have taken no issue with it. You said that “nutrient enrichment means sewage in the ground water” [emphasis mine]. I said that this statement was not necessarily true, as there are several other factors (in Barbados and in general) that contribute to nutrient enrichment; “sewage in the ground water” is not the only cause and you provided no evidence to show that “sewage in the ground water” was even a primary cause.

    You also said that the gentleman at the Barbados Water Authority had basically informed us that “sewage in our ground water is a major source of contamination to our water supply” or something of the sort. I responded that the gentleman in question, based on what I had heard, and based on the very article you cited as your source, had not said anything to that effect. Another commenter opined that you were giving the impression that Bajan water has a serious problem with faecal contamination, where in fact the BWA man had said that our water quality is very good and more than meets World Health standards. I felt that that article, as this one, was a case of taking information from a news report and misrepresenting it. I was particularly concerned because you took the words of the BWA water tech guy and turned them around in such a way as to give an impression very different from the situation as he actually portrayed it. I think that’s unacceptable.

    As it relates to this particular article, I did not say that “there is a problem with water-borne sewage from My Lord’s Hill contaminating the ground water supply”. The Nation article said that years ago it was recognised that there were increasing levels of contamination (including nutrient enrichment, I presume) in the water, bordering on (note, not exceeding) acceptable levels of the World Health Standards. I said that it was my understanding that the policy preventing new pipes was put in place to prevent water-borne sewage, from those districts identified, from entering the Belle catchment, i.e. it was put in place to prevent “a problem with water-borne sewage from My Lord’s Hill contaminating the ground water supply”. I also alluded to my understanding that contaminant levels have declined since that policy was put in place years ago (the development control legislation dictating no new houses and water connections in the Belle is dated 1977, according to my online research) and the BWA guy you quoted last week said that our drinking water quality now meets/is better than World Health Standards (that would include the standards for nutrients, I would think). Again, I was concerned becase you cited a source, but then reported a situation very different from that described in the source you used.

    I notice that you have removed this post’s reference to contaminated water pipes, without anything to indicate to new readers that you have amended incorrect information that was originally posted. I find that interesting. I notice also that the promised rewrite on the previous water article has not materialised, and I wonder whether when (if?) it does, it will be lost way (in Bajan terms) in the archives away from the front page.

    BFP, I am a regular visitor to your site; I don’t agree with every thing you say, but generally I find your opinions/perspectives thought-provoking, and it would be a much less interestig world if we all agreed about everything, no? However, presenting discussion/criticism that is not well supported by the facts (if I were being harsh, I would say that distorts the facts) is not in your best interest and can be damaging to your credibility/authority. Please take this as constructive criticism, as that is how it is intended.

  7. titilayo

    Oh boy, excessive italics. Sorry, forgot to close a tag somewhere.

  8. titilayo

    Oh boy, excessive italics. Sorry, forgot to close a tag somewhere.

  9. Adrian

    …..Titilayo i told you to stand ready to add deliberate to your definition of their actions.

    I honestly don’t understand why it is so hard to be objective, and non-partisan.

  10. BFP

    Hi folks

    We left all your comments online, and that should suffice – especially with Titilayo’s detailed reply. Titilayo also leaves the impression that we spoke about sewage as being the only component of nutrient polution, when in fact we quoted a source that listed other factors as well – but that is a small point.

    But in truth, thanks to our readers – especially Titilayo and Adrian – who think enough of us to provide feedback and criticism when they feel the need.

    Now… to the main theme of the article…. 12 years of neglect by a government that had enough money to provide water and sewage solutions for Barbados, but instead decided that there were other more important priorities.

  11. Adrian

    This is Barbados, where information is very difficult to come by, as such the seemless effort with which you get information tells me that this is not a citizen effort website.

    How dare you dismiss Titilayo concern as not important, this is classic DLP approach and policy. I knew it all along. Now that i know the true association, I will be even more relentless in my objection, be prepare to carry out your threat. the level of deception is amazing, but i am up to the task of going to every site listed here to deliver my believes about the associations of the BFP it is only fair that they know.

  12. Adrian

    Robert wuh part of Barbados you from? You from de country or you from Town?

  13. BFP

    Adrian says…

    “This is Barbados, where information is very difficult to come by, as such the seemless effort with which you get information tells me that this is not a citizen effort website.”

    Truly, thanks for the compliment, Adrian… but with all the flack we’ve been taking about our information being incorrect, I can’t see how you see our efforts as “seemless effort”. And what information are you talking about?

    As far as the DLP goes, we don’t have much faith that they will be organized well enough to find their way to dinner, let alone run a government anytime soon. And they were as much piggies at the trough when they were in power as is the present government. As for the PEP, we can’t even see them on the radar.

    We have mentioned before that the government in power for 12 years – especially a majority government – is not only a natural target for criticism, but is a well-deserved target. And should the DLP ever get in, we will hold them accountable too.

    You seem to troll on everybody’s websites Adrian, and while you occasionally get things correct, you seem to be more vitriolic here than at the BLP Blog.

    But as I have previously said, you do add some spice and salt here and there.

  14. Comment Maker

    I am chiming in here

    “In a previous article, we had talked about sewage impacting the natural ground water supply and were taken to task by some readers. Now, some of the same readers who took us to task for stating that sewage was a part of “nutrient enrichment” contamination of ground water are telling us that indeed, there is a problem with water-borne sewage from My Lord’s Hill contaminating the ground water supply.”

    This isn’t a fair represenatation of what happened on that previous post (rewrite still pending).

    The facts of Barbados’ water distribution system really don’t need to be twisted. We once were the envy of the Caribbean, now we are not. There does seem to be a recognition of that fact, by the government.

    However they are in charge and they cannot abdicate thier responsibility for the current state of affairs. BFP is right in that the current adminsitration has been there for 12 years and can hardly hide behind the old “when the other side was in power…” chesnut. But to go beyond the facts in the way that happened previously (rewrite STILL pending!) is not on. Similarly this article seems to have been creative with the facts, allbeit not as blatently as the last water article debacle (REWRITE STILL PENDING!!!)

    I think there is a real role for a Barbados Free Press website in Barbados and every time you pull one of these stunts it makes you easier to dismiss as the lunatic fringe. If you want the respect of a “serious” media outlet then you should act like one.

  15. West Side Davie

    It ssound like pile on BFP time.

    How many times they pull this kind of stunt? “every time” must be many times, huh? I don’t see it. And I don’t see dear Dr. Duguid commenting on sewage on the beach or cricket costs that are heading for the sky out of control. People make a big deal out of the first water article (REWRITE STILL PENDING) an they shoud rewrite true. But this sound like a pile on BFP over one article in 6 month. sound like somebodies is nervos.

  16. Comment Maker

    Davie I wasnt’ the one that said rewrite, they said they would. If they want to be mature about it and admit they “dropped a clanger” and withdraw that article that’s fine too.

    But to say you are going to rewrite it and then not also undermines their credibility. (another stunt perhaps? 🙂

    Also I take issue with the implication that if we see something that we disagree with we shouldn’t call BFP on it. If they are mature about it they will use the feedback to improve, if they aren’t mature about it well the feedback won’t matter anyway.

  17. Comment Maker

    To deal with the main thrust of the article if the lady can’t have water installed then they should move her.

  18. BFP

    Hello Folks

    Yes we still going to re-writing the first article – we’ve been trying to dig up some government reports to clarify some issues, but those reports are not accessible to us or other ordinary citizens, so we will proceed without them.

    And as we continually point out, it is the nature of blogging that when there is a misinterpretation of sources, or when something is not communicated as it was intended – or when a little hyperbole slips by the editor – the readers are sure to clarify matters so that the integrity of the end publication is upheld.

    If we inferred something from Titilayo’s statement that she did not intend – fine, it stands corrected here on the record – by her. Can’t ask for much better than that.

    As to her comments on the original article, Titilayo (and I’m sure she will correct me if I am wrong here 🙂 ) seems to imply that she was the one to first indicate that “nutrient enrichment” pollution includes components other than sewage – however, right in the original article, we noted the many causes of nutrient enrichment. As we quoted from the University of Manitoba right in the article…

    “Humans add excessive amounts of plant nutrients (primarily phosphorus, nitrogen, and carbon) to streams and lakes in various ways. Runoff from agricultural fields, field lots, urban lawns, and golf courses is one source of these nutrients. Untreated, or partially-treated, domestic sewage is another major source.”

    There was also an issue of Robert not being clear enough that he was talking about contamination of ground water supply – not the treated water in the pipes. So when a reader took it as water in the pipes, we saw that the article had not communicated the meaning well enough.

    So, we are rewriting.

    But Titilayo’s version of what happened is not exactly 100% accurate – notwithstanding that the BLP Blog has gleefully reposted a part of her comments.

    And that is to be expected when a publication that is highly critical of the governing elites drops a fish on the deck – even if it happens only once in six months and we try to pick it up again before it flops around too much.

    Now, if the BLP supporters who are so quick to “pile on” here (as one reader said) would ask a few tough questions over at the BLP blog, we might discover what the government intends to do about pools of sewage on Bathsheba Beach for the past year, and what magic they are using to prevent this free flowing sewage from entering the water table.

  19. John

    Sometimes I wonder if all the broohaha about the negative impact on the ground water at the Belle because of the few houses nearby, but downstream of it, is a smokescreen for the really heavy development at Warrens and Green Hill upstream of the same Belle.

    At Warrens you can find in addition to the dense concentration of people in offices (this means major sewage) industries involving agricultural chemicals, hotel supplies, fish processing, major mechanical workshops, oil, gasoline ………..

    Something is amiss at the Belle, and much of it is of our Government’s making. Private Enterprise also has a lot to answer for.

    Look at a map of the area and figure it out…… or just drive along the ABC highway. I think the map published by the Government of Barbados in the draft physical development plan (how long will it be a draft) will show clearly the heavy permitted development upstream of the Belle.

    Remember when the ABC highway was being constructed there was fear and dread of a gasoline tanker overturning near to, and contaminating the groundwater in the Belle?

  20. Adrian

    Comment Maker I tell you these people are not who they say they are, they are not interested in real change, they are not objective.

  21. ross

    “Comment Maker I tell you these people are not who they say they are, they are not interested in real change, they are not objective.”

    What people? In your view are the Nation and Avocate objective and interested in real change?

    Where are our investigative journalists in all of this?

    I enjoy reading and occasionally contribuing to the BFP. It is the responsibility of the readers who know better to alert readers to and to correct any mistakes made on this site and those who have the evidence to provide it. Accurate information in Barbados is so hard (almost impossible) to come by.

    Everybody has a different story and nobody seems to want to produce facts, especially the Government departments supposedly responsible.

  22. BFP

    Quite right about facts and government studies being in short supply, Ross.

    The consulting engineering firm who produced the study on the new water park were supposed to make it available to the public. The last we heard, it was in fact at the library, but the staff had been told that it was “copyrighted” and not to be photocopied… meaning that while one can read the study and take notes, one is not allowed to have a copy for reference.

    I’m not sure if this has changed, but the fact that this was the original constraint placed on readers of the study says much about how things are done on the island.

    When we talk about official government water studies and information as to where and how often the water is tested – just try and get that information!

  23. Jane

    I guess anybody who really wants to know will have to start taking water samples and doing their own testing if they are unable obtain timely accurate information from Government.

  24. Is there anybody in Barbados afraid to drink water straight from a Tap and is only drinking bottled water?

  25. Jane

    Yes, my family for more than 10 years now. We have been plagued with problems of burst pipes, low pressure, water outages and very dirty water in our area – Mapp Hill. We started to buy water after illness in the family following a burst pipe problem. The suffering and doctor’s bills justified buying water.

    Within the past few years we installed a simple whole house filter and cannot blieve what we find in the filter every 2 weeks – rust particles and thick brown muck.

    We also have 2 more filters on a staff drinking water system.

  26. John

    Love the picture of the two fat cats and the little old lady.

  27. titilayo

    My apologies. It is entirely correct that the source BFP cited, and quoted, in their previous water post mentioned other causes of nutrient enrichment apart from sewage. But the post focused exclusively on sewage, it was not a balanced discussion of the threats (and there are threats) to Barbados’s water supply. You didn’t discuss any of the other potential causes of nutrient enrichment, and you didn’t discuss any of the threats which the BWA guy outlined in his own presentation, and which are certainly cause for concern and merit discussion. Both that article and this one gave you a great opportunity to discuss the water situation in Barbados in an informative and accurate way (the limitation, of course, being the unavailability of info, but there are plenty of reports about Barbados’ water situation on the web), and I think you fell short on both occasions. As Comment Maker said:

    The facts of Barbados’ water distribution system really don’t need to be twisted. We once were the envy of the Caribbean, now we are not.

    There is plenty that you could write about it (and that has been written), but I think you need to go about it the right way.

    Cheers, and hope you had a good weekend!

  28. Jane

    Imagine in 2006 a little old lady having to catch water in a bucket which, when filled, will probably weigh more than she does. Disgusting!

    My deceased aunt, when she was well up in her 80’s, had to do the same thing for 6 months and lived in the most deplorable conditions but the circumstances were quite different. She had a 15% shareholding in a real estate rich company worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

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  30. BFP

    Titilayo

    Thanks very much for clarifying the situation, but moreso, thank you for your continued contribution, interest and advice.

    Marcus

  31. John

    Hants

    I drink tap water but try not to think of its source. It has not made me ill.

    I keep out of the sea, particularly the West coast. It is almost 20 years I have not been in the sea down that side. I have avoided the south coast for over 5 years. The East Coast is too terrible for my swimming ability so right now I just stay out of the sea.

    I understand ear infections result when levels of faecal coliform are too high. I have actually heard an official in the environmental Engineering Unit say in public that the Goverment has in the past received threatening letters from disgruntled tourists who feel they got ear infections from sea bathing.

    It is my personal decision to keep out of the sea, just as it is to drink tap water. But I am aware what can happen.

    My father forbad my siblings and myself from drinking tap water when I was a child. It had to be boiled and filtered. I think his concern was for consistent chlorination treatment to remove bacterial contamination. He was a Civil Engineer.

    I remember a former Chief Medical Officer from way back saying that the dramatic improvement in the infant mortality rate in Barbados from the 1950’s on was due to the improvements in the distribution, treatment and access to drinking water and was not a result of the QEH or anything any doctor, least of all him, did.

    Water is vital.

    Maybe I am hipped on the subject and should get a life.

  32. John

    I have a friend who bought some round the world ticket from BA and emailed me from Fiji.

    Said it was lovely but he had contracted an ear infection from bathing in the sea. He put it down to sewage from the hotels on the coast. Development is a two edged sword.

    This is pretty standard around the world and in the US, an organisation has gone so far as to give various beaches “Beach Bum” and “Beach Buddy” awards according to how much attention is paid to the health of the water.

  33. John

    I have heard about data being collected on the health of the nearshore waters where people bathe but have never seen any publication.

    Whatever happens in the sea where sewage is concerned is a reflection of what is happening on land to the ground water. What matters is that the catchment area which feeds the ground water from which the public water supply wells abstract water, must be properly protected.

    What happens between the public water supply well and the sea will determine the safety of the nearshore waters. It can also impact on the well depending on how close the well is.

    Lack of a properly adopted Physical Development Plan as required by law stands out as a major omission of both political parties.

    Think this lot is now going to debate something called a Strategic Plan in the near future. Have to check it out on the web and see if it just a mass of words and generalisations or if it actually addresses the actual problems I think we face.

  34. John

    This story carried in the Nation today highlights a problem with possible contamination of our near shore waters by industrial pollution. The Farmers of Gibbons Boggs have witnessed it first hand in the ground water which is pumped up to irrigate their crops.

    It is useful in understanding the connection between sewage, ground water and the sea. We really have serious problems to face as a result of the development path we have chosen.

    http://www.nationnews.com/story/286320067571307.php

    This first paragraph from the story defines the source of the contamination. It could also be sewage from heavy housing or commercial development. The problem has existed for over a decade.

    “Since 1995, farmers have complained that the seven-mile oil pipe from Oistins to Grantley Adams International Airport has burst on several occasions, spilling high-grade refined kerosene into the irrigation water of farmers in the area.”

    These following paragraphs demonstrate the awareness of the farmers of the impact of the contamination, not only on their own livelihood through contamination of the ground water, but also the impact it could have on the coastal environment.

    “Stressing it was not just a struggle for Gibbons Boggs farmers, Evelyn said: “The latest test that Shell has done has shown that the oil has been moving out of the agricultural area and into the coastal zone. So this is now a national issue where one of these days Barbadians may find out that they go down to Miami Beach and come out with oil on their bodies.”

    “The whole coral reef along the southern coast is also in danger. This is not just our struggle, it is a struggle for every householder who lives in Atlantic Shores and on the South Coast. “

    The sad thing is that this has been happening for over a decade. It is only within the last year that the pipeline has been replaced.

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  38. Kathy

    Titilayo, on the topic of “nutrient enrichment” I (along with most other regular lay people) am most concerned with sewage contamination, then dangerous chemicals, lastly everything else. I stopped going into the sea on the west and southwest coasts years ago when my husband got some cuts seriously infected after a sea-bath. We investigated with snorkels, and viewed underwater leakage from a pipe less than 50 yards out to sea. Nobody was interested, and even some of our relatives continued to swim there after we told them. I watched the movie Erin Brockovitch, and I wonder how the Barbadian court system would handle contamination suits. I would not want to be the one to find out.