No decision has been made as yet on whether schools will close in the areas to be affect by today’s Desalination Plant shutdown.
That is according to the Barbados Water Authority’s (BWA) rapid response and communications manager, Joyann Haigh, who was speaking on Voice of Barbados’ Brass Tacks Sunday.
But the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies has declared it will not be open.
On Friday, the BWA announced that Ionics Freshwater Ltd (commonly referred to as the Desalination Plant) on Spring Garden would be shutting its operations from 8 o’clock last night to 10 p.m. today. Areas expected to be affected include Bridgetown, Welches, Warrens and Sunset Crest.
“I spoke to Joy Adamson (Deputy Chief Education Officer) of the Ministry of Education and it is a case of let us see where the adjustments will be made before any decisions are made for schools,” she told the call-in programme.
“Some of the schools have tanks, so adjustments will be made to the distribution network in order to minimise the impact,” Haigh said.
The BWA manager said the annual maintenance at the Spring Garden plant did not necessarily mean that all the districts in St Michael, St Thomas and St James would be without water. It might just be a case of people experiencing low water pressure, she added.
However, she noted from the time the BWA announced the shutdown, people started to panic.
“We want to let Barbadians living in these areas know that there is no need to panic,” she stressed.
“Yes, it is 26 hours, so you need to be prepared and yes, there are going to be some outages. We are trying to make sure it is not as widespread, but the areas were listed as a precautionary measure in case we had challenges.
“We will make some adjustments to the system to help minimise the outages. I can’t tell you how many areas at this point but we are going to try to minimise the outages.”
Haigh reiterated that Barbadians should try to conserve water during the period, “and maybe not water gardens and wash your cars”, since usage was key to the level of water in the St Stephen’s Reservoir.
She said the vulnerable and emergency services would be given priority by the water tankers.
However, the university Campus Registrar’s office on its website informed students and staff that the campus would be closed.
It said that as a result of the BWA notice relating to the expected water outage in St Michael, “all staff and students are advised that the campus will be closed for the day”.
Meanwhile, at least one business in one of the areas expected to be affected today seemed ready.
Karen Snagg, assistant manager of Chicken Barn in Walmer Lodge, St Michael, said the business was prepared for any water outage as it already had a back-up water tank on plant.
A supervisor at Sol Warrens said yesterday evening she was not aware of the planned shutdown, and had not noticed any increase in customers purchasing water.
In yesterday’s SUNDAY SUN, head of the Barbados Private Sector Association, Charles Herbert, criticised the extended shutdown and said it was going to have “a huge economic effect which the country just cannot afford at this time”. (HLE/AD)