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BWA statement on water importation


BWA statement on water importation

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The following is the full text of a statement issued by the Barbados Water Authority in response to reports that water would be imported from Suriname.

It has been reported that a Suriname company Amazone Resources (AR) is said to be preparing to ship two (2) million litres of surface water to Barbados in a flex tank as a result of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in April 2015 with the Barbados Government.

This statement is only partially true in that the MOU was only signed in October 2016 and is with the Barbados Water Authority and not the Barbados Government. The MOU only deals with the Barbados Water Authority collaborating with Amazone Resources (AR) to demonstrate the feasibility of shipping water by use of recently designed flex tanks. 

The Barbados Water Authority has not reached any agreement with Amazone Resources (AR) to actually deliver water to Barbados. This would be subject to future considerations based on final price, risk assessments and comparison with other options.

The Barbados Water Authority is mandated under the BWA Act by the government of Barbados to keep under constant review the quality, reliability and availability of water supply and services as well as to conduct research programmes and prepare statistics for its purposes.

The collaboration highlighted above falls under this mandate where the BWA is looking at options to ensure long-term sustainability of the country’s water supply.

Climate change is expected to impact the islands available water resources in several ways. These include a reduction in rainfall, increased frequency of droughts, more intense short duration storms, increase in temperature and sea level rise.

These projected impacts will result in a reduction in available water resources either through reduced rainfall and groundwater recharge or through a deterioration of groundwater quality caused by saltwater intrusion.

As part of its climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies to address the projected impacts of climate change on water resources, the BWA has been and continues to evaluate the options available to augment the islands conventional freshwater resources. 

The non-conventional water augmentation options under consideration are: 1. Desalination 2. Treated Wastewater Reuse 3. Importation of water.

Currently the BWA has one signed contract for the construction of one 30,000 cubic meters/day (6 million gallons a day (MGD)) sea water desalination [plant] and is in advanced discussions for a second desalination plant of similar capacity as well as an expansion of the existing Ionics Desalination plant. These plants will take at least 12 months to commission.

Treated wastewater reuse is still under review and consideration but would require the upgrading of the treatment levels at the existing sewage treatment plants in order to achieve the reuse standards and access the necessary financing.

To date, a Draft Water Reuse Act and Water Reuse Concept Plan have been completed and work is ongoing in developing appropriate plumbing codes.

In 1994 and during the water resources study of 1997, the BWA reviewed the option of importing water from Dominica but this was found to be more expensive than desalinated water. However, this option was still deemed feasible and left open to future reviews.

In 2014, the BWA was approached by Amazone Resources (AR) to participate and collaborate in investigating the feasibility of transporting freshwater from Suriname by barges that were being designed in Holland and constructed in Spain to be tested.

Once this was deemed successful, consideration could then be given to augmenting future water supply shortfalls through this approach. An MOU was signed in October 2016 after a prototype flex tank was deemed ready for delivery to Suriname from Spain, to barge a container of water to Barbados to test its viability.

This barge is expected to leave Suriname on November 22 and arrive in Barbados on November 25, 2016. However, it was agreed that due to lack of existing infrastructure in Barbados for the receipt of the water, storage and pumping and the need to establish the necessary water quality standards and importation control measures, the water in the barge would not be offloaded.

The shipment mentioned in the Amazone Resources (AR) press release is therefore only a test run to inform future decisions relative to cost, water quality monitoring and acceptance protocols, appropriate uses of the water and design and construction of appropriate receiving and pumping infrastructure.

Cost and risk assessment comparisons with the other augmentation options would also have to be done before a final decision is made. All this is also subject to Government of Barbados approval.  (PR)