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D-Day on sewage

ALEX DOWNES, [email protected]

D-Day on sewage

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Today is the day the new Government is expected to make a final decision on the solution for the nagging South Coast sewage crisis.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley announced yesterday that a special paper was being prepared by all the relevant stakeholders under her instruction and would be presented when Cabinet meets this afternoon.

Her comments came after a near three-hour tour of the South Coast Sewage Treatment Plant, St Lawrence Primary School and Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary in Christ Church.

Mottley’s crew


Mottley and her team of ministers – including the Minister of Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams, Minister of Tourism Kerrie Symmonds, Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Jerome Walcott and Minister of Environment and National Beautification, Trevor Prescod – were updated and able to assess first-hand what they deemed a “mission critical” throughout their election campaign.

“This is a national emergency and if we have to stay up 18 to 20 hours a day for the next few days to deal with it in the same way I am dealing with the economy, you all will be working with this,” she said to colleagues.

She said while Government would not be sparing any expense to deal with the issue, money would be spent sensibly.

“Remember I said all along, Government is all about choices and we must have the political will. If we do this here, it may mean something else here would suffer.

“But it is our judgement that this is the most important thing nationally outside of the stabilisation of our economy for us to deal with and that is why we are here today.”

Tourism officials from the various Government agencies, representatives from Coastal Zone Management Unit, Environmental Protection Department and the Barbados Association of Professional Engineers also toured the areas.

Mottley was clear in telling Barbados Water Authority general manager Keithroy Halliday that the buck stopped with him,. She said he would receive all the necessary project management support to ensure the paper for Cabinet was done overnight.

The Prime Minister said one of the proposals put forward by the group was the building of two outfalls to complement the current lone outfall off the coast at Needham’s Point. One would be an eight-inch pump from the Graeme Hall Swamp and the second, a 16-inch pipe coming directly from the sewage treatment plant.

While acknowledging the short-term measures of injection wells and outfalls, she said what was now needed was a long-term solution in building a new plant.

She added that Walcott had been tasked with approaching the Canadian government for additional technical assistance, while Abrahams would be chairing a sub-committee which would meet two to three times a week to ensure the project stayed on target.

Residents and business owners on the South Coast have been battling the sewage issue since late 2016. Some businesses have reported millions in losses, tourists have cancelled accommodations and the United Kingdom, United States and Canada had issued health advisories.

Chicken Barn in Worthing, Christ Church, was one of the many operations impacted, and despite reopening its doors with a refurbished and air-conditioned building last month, director Paul Hynam said business was sluggish.

“It’s been slow. We haven’t seen the numbers that we have experienced before the whole situation with the sewage project. Some people are saying they are still avoiding the South Coast,” he told the DAILY NATION yesterday.

During its election campaign, the Barbados Labour Party identified the South Coast sewage problem as one of 20 “mission critical” matters which had to be addressed.

The Prime Minister reported that a second Cabinet paper on flushing the Graeme Hall Swamp would be coming next Thursday. (AD)