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$12.9m plan to fix sewage crisis

ALEX DOWNES, [email protected]

$12.9m plan to fix sewage crisis

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The Barbados Water Authority (BWA) is set to dig deep injection wells as a part of a $12.9 million plan to deal with the South Coast sewage overflows.

While this temporary measure seems set to bring much needed relief to residents on the South Coast, Minister of Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick has deemed this step as the best option out of a host of bad options.

Flanked by members of the BWA, including general manager Keithroy Halliday, at a press conference yesterday, Estwick revealed the authorities had made the tough decision to dig the wells to store the sewage water following consultation with international partners.

“We can’t run nine million gallons of sewage a day into the ocean; we can’t run nine million gallons a day into the swamp; we can’t leave nine million gallons a day on the street,” he said.

“So therefore, what we have come up with as an option is an option we wish we didn’t have to implement, but we are looking at the option as a short-term measure to give us the time necessary to effect the sort of investigations, management and solutions we spoke to,” he added.

The BWA will be going into the sewerage system and inspecting the network to discover the exact fix needed.

The deep injection wells are expected to cost around $8 million, while the rest of the funds will go towards other correlated projects such as a divergent line straight from the inlet line to the wells, and a permanent bypass.

While unable to give an exact timeline for the completion of all these steps, the first of these injection wells is currently being dug at the South Coast Sewage Treatment Plant, going to the bottom of the coral stone at a depth of 297 feet.

BWA director of engineering Charles Leslie said initial studies called for four wells to be dug, but the exact number and locations would be determined by the geological structure of the surrounding areas.

Noting the existence of underground aquifers, Estwick explained that those studies would also locate the safest areas to dig the wells and gave assurances that there would not be significant environmental impact. He said The Bahamas currently uses deep injection wells and they were used in North Carolina and Florida in the past.

The minister said Government was working with the Caribbean Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) to supply the funds, with CAF already agreeing to an advance of $4 million. (AD)