Conserving water must be national effort
For the past two days or so the rains have been threatening to descend on us, but the dark clouds that characterised much of Sunday and yesterday, accompanied by drizzles so sparse that they only disturbed the dust on window panes, failed to deliver.
We are in no doubt that thousands of Barbadians, particularly our farmers, are hoping and praying that the heavens will open and that vital product of Mother Nature, with which we cannot survive, will bless us with an outpouring.
But while we wait anxiously, we ought to give serious thought to whether we are managing the scarce water we now have. Last week thousands of households in St Philip and Christ Church suffered almost 48 hours of discomfort as a result of a disruption in water service, caused by a ruptured Barbados Water Authority (BWA)?main in Woodbourne, St Philip.
They felt what residents in many parts of St Andrew and St Joseph, in particular, go through with regularity, and we believe the old maxim “You never miss the water til the well runs dry” took on new meaning for many of them. But how many think about what they can do to contribute to water conservation when the commodity is flowing freely from the taps?
Historically, the performance of the BWA has not done a lot to turn consumers in the direction of conservation. When pipes – domestic as well as mains – burst, they are allowed to go unrepaired for weeks and that does not inspire a desire to conserve.
And while we can easily fault the BWA, the truth is, whether or not they perform their duties efficiently, it does not lessen the responsibility of all citizens to do their part to ensure that their conduct suggests they are conscious of the fact that we are all living in a water-scarce country.
The volume of water we all use to wash dishes, clean our cars and generally keep ourselves and our surroundings tidy when it is flowing freely from the taps, compared with how we get by when the BWA is forced to ration the supply ought to tell us we can do much better.
Against this background, we support the suggestion by St Joseph MP Dale Marshall that Government provide some kind of incentive
to encourage residents in areas most seriously affected by water supply problems to purchase water tanks.
However, we would go further and suggest that perhaps Government could offer tax breaks or other incentives for all households that do not now have tanks to acquire them for the purpose of catching rain water – to be used for gardening and other non-potable purposes.
We know that the Town and Country Planning Development Office requires this for all new construction, but to make it a truly national undertaking we should seek to capture every Barbadian household by some designated time.
We ought also to establish a national programme for cleaning existing suckwells and digging new ones in strategic locations to ensure less of the rain water runs into the sea. We don’t have to continue to act as though we are powerless to help ourselves in this regard.