‘Myth’ Barbados a water-scarce country

Independent Senator Dr Chelston Brathwaite believes it is “a myth” that Barbados is a water scarce country.

He told the Upper Chamber as much on Wednesday during debate on a resolution which would allow Government to compulsory acquire a parcel of land at Balls Plantation in Christ Church to construct a water storage tank by the Barbados Water Authority.

“It is a myth, in my view a myth, in circulation that we are a water scarce country. And that may be true for those who do the analyses on a global stage and a global level, and who use criteria such as amount of rainfall on an annual basis as a basis for this classification.

“I personally do not believe that we are a water scarce country. Most water scarce countries do not have the kind of floods that we have. The flooding that occurs in our country could be a wake-up call to some of us that we are not that water scarce.

“What happens in a lot of situations is that we do not collect and capture the water that falls on the land and the water flows into the sea. And then, we put technology in place to bring that water from the sea back to the land.

“It seems to me that the whole concept that we’re water scarce has influenced our thinking and our policies. The Government has been putting in place dams, for providing water to the agricultural sector; noble initiative, but those noble initiatives must be expanded … to the extent that we can get to the stage where we do not use domestic water supplies that have been treated with chlorine to irrigate our crops. Plants don’t like chlorine,” Brathwaite said.

He commended the efforts so far by Government and queried whether more of the funding approved under programmes such as the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation 2, and the Green Climate Fund could be used to secure better water supplies so Barbados could satisfy domestic, commercial, and agricultural requirements. Such a move, he said, would be good because insufficient water would affect development in areas like housing, industrial development and food production.

Brathwaite also told the Senate the time must come when the importance of individual responsibility for the management of water to ensure “we have enough to satisfy the basic requirements needed” for Barbados is emphasised, a point with which Independent Senator Christopher Maynard agreed.

Maynard said Brathwaite’s “suggestion that households be responsible in some way for their own supply of water, not all of it was an excellent one”.

“There needs to be a concerted public education campaign not only about the value of water and water conservation but how you as an individual must provide some of your own water. Not necessarily potable water but water that can be used for other purposes,” he said. (GBM)

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