EDITORIAL: BWA needs to give detailed public update
IT HAS BEEN LONG ACCEPTED that progress seldom comes without some pain. The gross inconvenience being felt daily by Barbadians as a result of work being undertaken all over the island by the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) would be a perfect example of this.
Our concern, however, is whether the authority is taking it for granted that laying new mains or replacing old ones will of necessity bring disruption and is therefore failing to execute these simultaneous projects with the maximum efficiency possible.
For sure the level of public notification of planned outages is higher than we have ever seen from the BWA. The paid ads and public service notices appear in the print and electronic media daily and Barbadians certainly can’t claim they are not being informed.
But do the outages have to be as many as we are having? Do they have to occur with such frequency? Invariably, the authority warns of a 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. shut-off, but does it not appear strange that every job is estimated by the BWA to take the whole day? Does this not suggest that those doing the work, or managing the jobs, are not being as efficient as they should be?
What compounds the problem for many of the affected householders is that they live in areas of the country where water outages had become the norm in recent years and when the authority advises them to “store adequate supplies” to avoid inconvenience, they are left to wonder how they will collect it from already dry taps.
We believe too that the BWA will be the first to admit that its water relief efforts, utilising tankers and the more recent introduction of community water tanks, continue to fall well short of the mark. If it had to be graded by its customers for the quality of service delivery in these circumstances, it would be hard to see the agency receiving a passing grade.
We, like most Barbadians, don’t expect miracles from the BWA. Certainly it can’t be blamed entirely for the failure of the country to keep its water delivery system up to date – Government’s policymakers must shoulder most of that. And now water mains all over the country have to be replaced en masse and that can’t be avoided – neither can some level of inconvenience.
With estimates of water loss due to leakage running as high as 45 per cent, depending on who is offering the estimate, mains replacement was absolutely necessary, but we are not convinced that the level of disruption accompanying it has to be so high.
We therefore implore the BWA to take consumers into its confidence and provide a detailed update on the work done so far, and what has been achieved in water savings, so Barbadians can take some comfort in knowing that their sacrifice has not been for nothing. It is equally important that the authority paints for the country a clear picture of what is still to be done and provide more realistic and reasonable information on the inconvenience that is likely to come with it.
It is also time that the BWA acquires a fleet of water tankers that is adequate to cover the extent of outages. It is one thing to acquire a supertanker, as the authority has done – it must have its purpose. But regardless of its size, a tanker can only treat so many households at a time. A larger fleet of smaller tankers, in our humble opinion, would satisfy far more people in many more areas than a supertanker.