Future Centre Trust pleased with Barbados Water Authority plans

Barbados Water Authority advertises its tender for Water and Sanitation Systems Upgrade thanks to IADB funding.

The Future Centre Trust applauds the Inter-American Development Bank and the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) for their plans to upgrade the Water and Sanitation Systems of Barbados as reported by the Sunday Sun on June 19, 2010. Water in Barbados is a scarce resource. The country is listed in the top ten water scarce countries per capita in the world. Water is not seen as precious, however, thanks in part to the price charged for this life giving necessity.  But will the fifty million USD upgrade to the BWA come at too high a price for Barbadians?

Upgrades to the BWA systems both for water supply and its reorganisation of customer service systems, public awareness and IT are long overdue by all accounts.  It is the first point raised when the issue of water conservation measures such as Rainwater Harvesting are mentioned to the general public. “Why should we install rainwater harvesting systems, when the biggest waste of water in Barbados is made by the Water Authority itself!”, is a quote heard many a time at the various presentations which the FCT provides regularly. Now we have the answer! An upgrade will help to solve these issues – never mind that these changes will not come easy, but at least now they are coming!

One is aware that with financing comes repayment. The fear is that by implementing such a welcomed change to ‘business as usual’, that for so long has been the BWA, it will end up costing more for our water supplies and waste water treatment. When something costs more money, it all of a sudden becomes precious. This may not be such a bad thing as the continued threat of annual droughts and their severity increases due to climate change. We need to conserve our water – each one of us!

A couple of examples if you will – We all know how much car owners in Barbados love to keep their cars clean. If all of the 116,000 cars in Barbados were washed every week – once every week – with two five gallon buckets of water, this would amount to almost four and a half million litres of water a week‼! A week‼ What about if everyone only had one five minute shower per day using five gallons… This works out to four point nine million litres per day – and this is just a population number of 260,000 used‼  We need to start realising water is precious, and if a rate increase make those who flippantly use water stop and think twice about letting the hose run, or the tap run in the sink, then that is a good thing!

At the start of the Environment Day Parish Walk organised by the NCC from the Eric Holder Centre in St Joseph, the FCT was impressed to learn, after questioning a police officer washing his vehicle with a hose, that the Centre uses rainwater for car washing and irrigation purposes. Very impressed indeed! We need more of this within public and private sector businesses and organisations (and householders for that matter). This is one way to appease any increases which may be imposed thanks to the planned upgrade of the BWA systems.

The Future Centre Trust looks forward to hearing more of this tender process and implementation, which of course will take much time to find the right people to do the jobs at hand and to actually see the finished product. At least there is a plan and the plan is backed with funds‼ Here’s hoping!

About Future Centre Trust

The Future Centre Trust is an environmental Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) and registered charity providing environmental education to the public of Barbados. Its mission is “To stimulate awareness and encourage responsible management of the vital relationship between people and nature leading to a sustainable future for all”. This is achieved through various programmes, activities and presentations to the community which are included and highlighted at www.futurecentretrust.org.

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10 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Environment

10 responses to “Future Centre Trust pleased with Barbados Water Authority plans

  1. environmental planner

    Now, lets see some action!

  2. John Da Silva

    I always thought water was under priced, and hence under valued and under appreciated. When something is not appreciated, inevitably it is wasted. Compare the electricity bill to the water bill of the average person (or even what is spent on TV or internet access). You can survive without electricity, telephone or TV, but you will die or get sick within a week without clean water.

    I say raise the price, and use that money to fund a distribution system that is efficient and does not leak. Also use the money to supply low flow toilets, showers and taps, and to educate people not to waste water.

    The BWA also needs to be completely revamped. I would put out to tender its operation. Ever watched a crew from the BWA repair a leaking pipe. There seems to be six or eight people, half of whom at any one time are doing nothing.

  3. dismanhey

    as we wait on the BWA and wait and wait…,rain harvesting is the way to go for us right now.. mandate it as the BVI and Bermuda have done on new contruction. The government should look at the possibility of removal of applicable taxes(if there is) on tanks ,gutters etc.. and if that can create a scenario of the less of a subvention to the BWA from them as a result of more water within the system.

  4. bp

    “The country is listed in the top ten water scarce countries per capita in the world”

    Please direct me to a link that backs its claim with research done sometime within the past 25 years.

  5. BFP

    Hi bp,

    What an interesting question and observation! I’ve just done a quick Google search and find that much of the info is old old old. Makes me wonder too!

    THIS little gem from 2000 is not only interesting, it is a condemnation of our so-called government leaders (elected and appointed) for about the last 15 years…

    “Trends in water resources management

    The 1997 Water Resources Study suggests that unaccounted-for water in the BWA’s potable water supply approaches 60%. There are ongoing efforts to reduce this level by at least 30% with several measures including the implementation of tariff increases to control demand. Contracts have been signed for the construction of a 6 million m3/y brackish water desalination plant to augment the potable water supply. A Draft Policy Framework for Water Resources Development and Management for Barbados is in preparation.”

    From the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

    Online report on Barbados here: http://www.fao.org/nr/water/aquastat/countries/barbados/index.stm

    And… here we are 13 years later and our Environment Minister is still telling us that potable water leakage is still 60% Wuhloss!!!!

  6. bp

    This is the only link that I can find, published by ITT industries: http://www.itt.com/waterbook/intl_scarcity.asp
    I cannot find any references.

  7. John

    BFP

    The 1997 Water Resources Study suggests that unaccounted-for water in the BWA’s potable water supply approaches 60%. There are ongoing efforts to reduce this level by at least 30% with several measures including the implementation of tariff increases to control demand.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    In 1997, most customers supplied by BWA were not metered.

    Unaccounted for water is water that cannot be accounted for … it was not measured … metered.

    Many people make the error of thinking the descriptor “Unaccounted for Water” means water lost through leaks.

    The metering program which saw most households move from flat rate to metered supply started around 1998.

    The reference to “tariff increases to control demand” reflects the increase in metering.

    It is only when most if not all water is metered (accounted for) that the reference to tariff increases to control demand would make sense.

    I have heard big able engineers make the simple error of equating “unaccounted for” water with leaks but my understanding is quite different.

    Politicians love the confusion because their shortcomings in strategic thinking are clouded by the said confusion.

    The maximum water available is about 44 million gallons per day. If 60% is being lost through leaks then the actual demand would be 17.6 million gallons per day.

    Do the math for the popuation and you will find that the consumption per person is way too low and does not make sense.

    Measure what you use in a day.

    Read your meter.

    The metering program and increases in tariffs did actually control demand and did prolong the ability of BWA to supply water across the island.

    That is why I have a healthy respect for those folks at BWA.

    They circumvented the natural limit imposed by what water is available by good sense.

    From 1996 till now they have done one hell of a job.

    But the clock was ticking on them from 1996 and perhaps as more and more MP’s jump on to the housing bandwagon, shortages in various areas will no longer be maskable without steep increases in tariffs.

    … droughts will expose the natural weakness, heavy rainfall will hide it and lull us into a false snse of security.

    The major weakness of any major housing programs is water …… and of course lack of jobs that will support mortgages.

  8. John

    Drilling for water
    Wednesday, 23 June 2010 21:02

    By Roy R. Morris
    There’s a lot of drilling going on it St. Philip, and it is not for oil.

    Barbados TODAY investigations have uncovered extensive exploration work taking place around the Six Road area of the eastern parish by Williams Drilling, a division of Williams Industries, to locate a substantial enough reservoir of brackish water to supply a commercial desalination operation.

    The most recent exploration took place in the Sandy Hill area, and according to sources connected to the operation, preliminary findings suggest that authorities may be able to augment current potable water supplies from aquifers in the area that are not now tapped by the Barbados Water Authority.

    According to one source, housing developers in the St. Philip area have been slowed in their attempts to build more houses because planning authorities are concerned about the capacity of the BWA to supply more water on its existing network, and the current explorations are an attempt at a private sector solution to the problem.

    While he declined to offer any details, chairman of Williams Industries, Ralph Bizzy Williams confirmed the water exploration exercise, and that once enough reserves were found a full proposal for a desalination plant would be completed and forwarded to Government.

    Currently, Foursquare Estates Limited and Caribbean Homes Limited are involved in a joint venture to built more than 1,000 “affordable” homes in the Emerald Park, Sandy Hill and Highland areas, but with only 450 completed, the Town and Country Planning Department has apparently slowed the approval rate for additional houses because of the water concerns.

    Up to this week, Barbados Today investigations revealed, the developers had been completing houses at the rate of two per day.

    Our investigations have revealed that officials estimate that each of these lower to middle income houses requires approximately 50 gallons of water per day, and if engineers from Williams Drilling are able to find a supply of just half a million gallons per day they could install a desalination plant to supply enough water for more than 6,000 new homes.

    Williams said the aim was to come up with a scenario that would allow them to supply enough water at an affordable price to the BWA for the national network to satisfy housing authorities that major construction in the parish would not negatively impact the rest of the country.

    An engineering expert said: “A typical home like those being built at Emerald Park uses about 50 gallons per day. The desalination plant at Spring Garden now supplies the BWA with 5.2 million gallons per day, or enough for about 104,800 of these homes.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Sandy Hill is in the St. John/St. Philip Catchment.

    Fresh water from rainfall in the higher elevations of St. John/St. Philip on the northern shoulder of the “St. George Valley” makes its way undergound and overground (heavy rainfall) to the Valley and then eat to the sea.

    The amount which makes its way underground is dependent on the rainfall and its excess over the evapotranspiration rate.

    The catchment area is fixed.

    The evapotranspiration rate varies with the season and some months depending on rainfall there is no net contribution to the underground water.

    The contribution from the southern shoulder on the Christ Church Dome for this reason is much smaller. It is dryer for one thing.

    Bowmanston in the upper elevations of this catchment area extracts water from a well 250 plus feet deep in the stream water area.

    However, it only extracts a fraction of what is extracted from Hampton in the sheet water area in the Valley.

    If more water is extracted from the catchment area in the sheet water area than falls as rain upstream in the higher elevations sea water is attracted to the puming station and can impinge on the viability of the pumping station.

    It is frightening to read that after giving permissions to put large tracts of land into housing and no doubt granting concessions to the house factory at Four Square, we are now looking to find water with which to supply them.

    What will happen with the golf course touted for Busy Park?

    An attempt to locate a “desal” plant for brackish water in St. Lucy was once made. Not sure of the outcome but my gut is it failed.

    Wonder what will happen with the $800 million project at Pickerings long term.

    …. and 50 gallons for a household in these days is ridiculous unless only one person is living there.

    A family of four, assuming it uses water toilets, could use about 5 gallons per flush. Four per person per day equates to 5×16=80 gallons.

    Maybe with water saving toilets some of the occupants might get a shower … and have water left over to boil a little soup.

  9. John

    Water outages hit St Residents in some St Thomas communities are up to their necks in water problems.
    http://www.nationnews.com/articles/view/water-outages-upset-st-thomas-folk/

    By: by DAVANDRA BABB

    Residents in some St Thomas communities are up to their necks in water problems.

    For quite some time, residents in Hopewell, Shop Hill, Bloomsbury, Carrington Village, Vault Road and Edgehill have been made to go without water between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 or 6 a.m.

    According to angry resident Donna Maynard, the problem has been going on for about three years.
    “Every night they turn off the water and they don’t give us any notice at all. It is sickening. Sometimes when I wake up to prepare for work and make lunch I cannot do it because I have no water,” she said.

    “It needs to stop because we can do nothing without water,” she continued. “We even had to stop gardening because of no water.

    “To make matters worse, the people come and read the meters wrong. On more than one occasion, my mother’s water bill came out for $1 286.70. That is ridiculous; that can’t be right,” she said.

    Another resident from the Shop Hill area, who chose to remain anonymous, said that living had become even harder without the water.

    “I have a back problem and I cannot lift anything heavy, but every night and sometimes even during the day the water off and I can do nothing.
    “I have to take everything I have and store water in it because I do not know when they are going to turn off the water. Up to this morning I had to bathe out of a saucepan,” she said.

    Parliamentary representative for the area, Cynthia Forde, said that she was displeased with the situation.
    “I am not pleased with the way my people are being treated. There should be a notice if the water is going to be turned off so the residents can properly prepare,” she stated.

    Efforts to reach officials from the Barbados Water Authority yesterday were futile.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Another instance that has been going on for years.

    There will probably be other areas as well that will come to light when it becomes plain that there is no end to the water ptoblems that have been created.

    A measure of how poor the strategic thinking is.

    No point going to BWA, go to the GOB, but do not hold your breath.

  10. John

    In today’s Nation

    For several weeks residents of some areas in St Joseph and St Andrew have not had a full day’s water supply.

    However they are still being billed monthly and are expected to pay up.

    Last Wednesday the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) announced that they would be shutting off the water supply to a number of areas for a six-hour period starting last night from 10 p.m – 4 a.m.

    This measure is to allow water levels in reservoirs which service the area to build up. However, residents of some of the affected areas said the water supply remains unpredictable.

    One Braggs Hill Housing Area resident, Natasha Layne said: “On mornings for two weeks straight I have had to bathe out of a bucket. For three weeks we did not have water for a full day, yet the water bill has come for $104.00.”

    Layne added that her mother called the BWA and was told to write a letter to have the bill investigated, but was still encouraged to pay the bill.

    They also had a plumber check the plumbing system to ensure that they were no leaks.

    Layne added that the water trucks rarely came to the areas to distribute water. “By the time they get to the area where we live, the tanks are empty so we have to wait for them to come back out.”

    Layne added that she had been forced to collect salt meat buckets to catch water as keeping the house sanitary was important, especially with four children living in the household.

    “Luckily I have a vehicle and would go and catch water, bathe the children then come back home.”

    Llewelyn Nicholls, an Airy Hill resident, said residents were struggling with the situation for the past six to seven months.

    Nicholls lives with his 87-year-old mother and is responsible for catching water to cater to her needs.

    Nicholls complained that he was forced to wait for the rain to fall to catch water for his uses. “We have to wait for rain to get the place cleaned because we have to save the water we catch to use in the bathroom”, he said.

    One female resident who gave her name as Sandra complained: “You cannot get a good Sunday meal. Last Sunday I got up and the pipe was off. At 10 a.m it was still off. I went to work and came back home at 2 p.m and it was still off.”

    However, she received a water bill for $98 “and cannot get a steady supply of water on any given day”.