Barbados: Andre Worrell, DLP Vice President and Spokesperson on Agriculture and the Environment, wrote a post on crisis and access to water is the critical factor causing many Barbadians to cry out for mercy.
We heard these cries during the prolonged-drought, and we listened to these cries for water at the height of the coronavirus lockdown; now, the same cries are being heard as the ash descended from the -La Soufriere volcano on the Barbados nation.
How much longer might access to potable water be the bottleneck restraining the development of this nation?
Barbados has tapped out on the groundwater supply. The St. Philip water augmentation scheme, which includes the Vineyard project, will bring temporary relief to the parishes in the south.
The package deal plants in the north will only grant temporary relief to citizens in St. Lucy, St. Peter, and other areas. Meanwhile, national in St. Joseph and St. Andrew shall continue to have a water crisis as these measures do not adequately address their water-supply.
Within the few months of taking office, this administration, through then Minister Wilfred Abrahams, ruled out the possibility of more desalination plants.
At that time, he stated, “Desalinated water sourced directly from the sea costs $4 a unit, so if we bring more desalination plants online, our annual water supply expenses will increase by over $100 million, and we simply cannot afford that.”
The Democratic Labour Party disagreed with the minister’s cost assumptions then, and we still disagree now. The administration simply needs to display the desalinated water cost globally.
These costs vary within a range of US$0.50 to US$1.20 per cubic meter. In any case, the lack of access to potable water costs this nation more than $100 million in revenue annually when we consider its constraints on housing development techniques, productivity, and the impact on the well-being of those affected.
This BLP administration has so far raised close to $1 billion in loans during the coronavirus Pandemic. Seeking a loan to construct the desalination plants must be part of the stimulus package.
These projects would be labour-intensive and would help to eradicate a significant developmental-challenge. The plants alone are not the solution. We also need to invest in large water storage-reservoirs.
These large reservoirs, strategically located across the nation to gravity feed the system in emergency cases, would be accommodating in times like this where the BWA has to cut back on pumping or production at the desal plants.
The reserves can only be kept filled if we upsurge our access to potable water by desalination.
The administration should immediately contribute the cost of water tanks and pumps to make them more affordable to households, especially as many are struggling financially.
We encourage the efforts to deploy groups to clean up the roads. These groups should be quickly disposed to communities dealing with the ongoing water crisis.
However, the Democratic Labour Party strongly believes that cries for water should be a thing of the past in 2021. We encourage the Mia Mottley government to withdraw its political stance and invest in the desalination plants and additional water storage capability. They are obliged now more than ever.