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More water shortages in north over the weekend

Adriel Richard

More water shortages in north over the weekend
General manager of the Barbados Water Authority, Keithroy Halliday. (FILE)

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General manager Keithroy Halliday said the Barbados Water Authority took the temporary desalination (desal) plant in Hope, St Lucy, offline because a number of maintenance issues.

Halliday said this would result in severe water shortages in the north of the island until the weekend, but it was unavoidable, and the situation was exacerbated by the heavy ashfall from the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano in neighbouring St Vincent.

“We have always had a challenge with supply in the north, but the issues (at Hope) are now three-fold,” he said on the Down to Brass Tacks radio talk show on VOB 92.9 FM.

“We have an issue with supply, we have an issue with ageing mains, and we have an issue with the ash.”

He said: “We have had to pull down (the desal plant) to change the filters, to change the membranes and to deal with the turbidity issues, and regrettably, it’s a process that takes a few days.

“The best guestimation of when that plant will be back up is Sunday, so in the interim we are doing the best that we can with the water tanker serving the area and the filling of community tanks.”

Halliday said the situation was challenging and it was made more difficult because residents in the area – like many others around the island – were using high volumes of water in an effort to clean up their surroundings from the fallen ash.

“Boscobelle is at the end of that series of systems and, therefore, when the other areas are using the water heavily, whatever is left is what trickles down to Boscobelle and that is a challenge we have had for some time,” he said.

“With the mains replacement programme coming up and the addition of a packaged desal plant in (Boscobelle), some of the issues we are having in St Peter and St Lucy will be resolved.”

Halliday again urged residents to use water sparingly because this is the time of year when there is little to no rainfall and the levels of the precious commodity in the aquifers are stretched.

“We have a distribution system that would not have been optimised to service 100 000 clients at the same time,” he said.

“If we have even half of that number drawing water from the system excessively at the same time, there is no way with the best of intentions that such a system can support such a demand.”

He said: “That is why we have been cautioning everyone to take it slow, take your time, don’t rush it and do one thing at a time and to use whatever water that is non-potable once it is safe to do.

“What is happening now is that all 11 parishes have been impacted, and like any other system, those who are closer to the source will be able to benefit from the water firstly, but those further on in it will suffer and that is why we are seeing the low water pressure in some areas.”

Halliday suggested that seawater may be used as a possible alternative in a few scenarios.

“That is actually in practice right now in some areas of the roadway, but it is not a wide scale practice because seawater has its own effect, and depending on the property, the building, the make-up of the asset that you will be using it on, you will need to be careful,” he said.

“I would recommend it for use outdoors in some areas, but there are some components and areas of the home that you should not use (seawater) on. In a situation like this, when there should be limited use of water, I would encourage its use.” (AR)