Barbados sewage issue elevated to a national crisis

Charles Leslie (right), Director of Engineering (BWA) briefing Prime Minister Mia Mottley and members of her Cabinet (from left), Wilfred Abrahams, Peter Phillips and Kerry Symmonds, during this morning’s tour of the south coast. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

By Joy Springer

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) — The new prime minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, has elevated the continuing sewage problems on the south coast to a national crisis and ordered that a Cabinet paper be prepared outlining options to resolve the issue.

After a tour of the area last week, accompanied by management of the Barbados Water Authority, government officials and members of the Barbados Association of Professional Engineers, the prime minister declared: “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’s why we are here and that’s why the decisions will be made.”

She told members of the media that the Cabinet paper would present options aimed at ensuring that the sewage was kept off the street; that the lines were repaired; and that long-term solutions were found to make sure that there would be no recurrence of the problem.

The prime minister revealed that a sub-committee, chaired by minister of energy and water resources, Wilfred Abrahams, had been established and, once Cabinet approved the plan, this committee would be meeting two or three times a week to ensure that the project stayed “on time and on target”.

One consideration being proposed, she revealed, was for two outfalls to be built – one an eight-inch main from the Graeme Hall Swamp and the other a 16-inch main from the Sewerage Plant, both of which, she said, would go beyond the outer reefs so as to ensure minimal damage to the nearshore waters.

Mottley said she had asked minister of foreign affairs, Senator Jerome Walcott, to approach the Canadian government for technical assistance, which she said the Barbados government would pay for.

Every effort would be made, she said, to get all the equipment and materials necessary into the island as soon as possible so the work could be carried out in the shortest possible time.

A second Cabinet paper will be prepared by the ministry of environment and national beautification for the consideration of Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, she disclosed, which will address the impact of the sewage problem on the Graeme Hall Swamp and how that wetland can be regenerated.

The prime minister reported that the ministry of transport and works had also been charged with preparing a Cabinet paper that will deal with the repaving and the rebuilding of the south coast corridor to ensure greater integrity and sustainability.

“This is how we have to get on top of this urgent situation… We have had more travel advisories on this issue than we have ever had on any other issue.

“All Bajans will roll up their sleeves and we will deal with this now. If it means that we can’t do some other things because of the unavailability of funds, so be it. But we must have life first and this is what gives us life, in terms of public health and in terms of our economy,” Mottley maintained.



  1. So in other words we will continue to dump our sewage untreated into the sea but we are just going to take it further off shore so it doesn’t bother “our” coastline. In what world does this make any sense? Has nobody ever heard of a sewage treatment plant?

    • Actually, Barbados has two sewage treatment plants — Bridgetown and the south coast — while most of the Caribbean islands have none.

      Still, both plants need upgrading and two or more plants need to be built.

      Barbados is one of the most densely populated places on the face of the earth with a very large and very refuse-generating tourism population.

      Barbados is also very susceptible to flooding and is slowly running out of ground water which will necessitate the construction of sea-water desalination facilities not far down the road.

      Barbados is caught in the typical tourism catch-22. The more tourists who visit, the more jobs there are for locals, thereby discouraging the out-migration that would otherwise occur. But both tourism and a large home population are the enemies of the environment.

      The choice that many small island-countries face is between environmental well-being and poor economic well being for the people or a degraded environment with a high level of prosperity for the populace.

      As far as the political parties all over the region are concerned, the environment must take a back seat to job creation which is why the new regime in Barbados will do only what is barely required and costs the least money to ease the sewage problem. A lasting solution is not in the cards because it would be far too expensive and would end up destroying too many jobs lost by high taxes and other negative fallout of environmental protection such as restricting the number of visitors.

      • Gee David! … surprise, surprise … Barbados’ 61 white and pink sand beaches, nearly all of them public, all them clean, all of them natural, all of them tempting.

        This and the country’s allied attractions is also why so many more of our wealthy citizens – in both numbers and proportion – have long flown to Barbados on holiday than Bajans have travelled here to enjoy our mainland.

        With all these considerations in mind, why have we built an expensive international airport at Argyle?

        Ask Ralph.

        No! Ask C.Ben-David, he has all the answers.

        • 1. Who said that the garbage and sewage was accumulating on the beaches? Not me; not anyone in Barbados.

          2. At least the government of Barbados is doing something to save their precious environment; we in St. Vincent are doing little or nothing except continuing our illegal and government mining of beach sand.

          3. The sewage and garbage problem has not prevented the continuing rise in Barbados tourist visitors, including 2017, a year when St. Vincent’s mainland tourist arrivals decreased considerably from the year before.

          4. At least Barbados has two public sewage treatment plants and countless others at individual facilities, including the hotels.

          5. To the best of my knowledge, the only government resource for the disposal of septage from septic tanks on St. Vincent Island is a facultative lagoon which is owned and operated by the Central Water and Sewage Authority adjacent to the Diamond landfill. I believe that the shuttered Buccament Bay Hotel also had a sewage disposal facility but I may be wrong.

          6. Unlike Barbados, St. Vincent doesn’t even have the appropriate sewage disposal legislation.

          Your mindless attempt to discredit Barbados and elevate St. Vincent by quoting from one of my essays suggest that your brain is clogged with uncycled septic tank too-too that needs to drained into the lagoon where you were conceived.

      • While your explanation I’m sure is spot on, for the long run it makes no sense on the part of the government of Barbados. Undoubtedly tourism is most important for the employment of people however it is a pipe dream to think tourist will continue to flock to a place that is filthy, germ infested and with beaches that have to be shared with floating turds. You can spend the money now even if it leads to increase taxation or save the money and watch your tourist industry go down the toilet ( pun intended) Without tourist what is Barbados? There are places in Panama, Colombia, where I, as a tourist, will simply not return because of unsanitary practices. Closer to home, San Francisco is beginning to lose tourism for the same reason although their problem is more closely related to the homeless situation.

  2. I am an active environmentalist, and I have already said that I will help with the provision of fresh water to any country in the Caribbean. My technologies through the production of chilled, oxygen-enriched water are able to: Cool any state – a group of states – and restore its water balance on schedule:
    Restoration of rivers, and other water bodies: In the first year – 15%. In the second – 20%. In the third – 30%. And in the fourth – 35%. If you start work today – early June 2018 – then I will show the first visible results of the rise in water in rivers by November 2018.
    Produced water will ensure the growth of new productive lands and pastures, forests that will destroy the poisonous smog and produce oxygen.
    Sincerely, developer of environmental programs, Victor Rodin. Ukraine. Khmelnitsky NPP. Tel. Kiev Star: 961336344.

  3. Its not a water problem that is the priority its the shitencrappen running in the streets breeding mosquetoes who are breeding and spreading Chikungunya and Dengue.

    Barbados is a dangerous destination for tourists and the goverment have been talking about a remedy for years. Lets hope this is just not an extension of those talks with nothing being done.

    Chicken Roost carpark fills with raw sewage on a frequent basis.

    The sea is unsafe because its loaded with sewage on a regular basis.

  4. I wrote this in January of this year as a comment to this article

    South coast sewage problem receiving government’s full attention, says Barbados PM

    Jolly Green January 28, 2018 at 2:44 pm
    Raw sewage has been flowing in the streets and car parks for years now. It is all to do with the size and capacity of the pumps at the sewage treatment plants, they simply are not designed or built to handle the volume. The government know that but are willing to put peoples lives at risk from disease.

    Then every few weeks the lake where the sewage is pumped for settlement overfills and huge quantities is allowed to run into the sea when they simply lower the sluice gate. Holiday makers and the Barbados public are unaware that they are at risk just by paddling on the beach.

    Diseases that can be caught from raw sewage include:
    Cryptosporidium and Giardia.
    Gram Negative Bacteria.
    Hepatitis A.

    Typhoid Fever
    A disease caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi, which lives only in the bloodstream and intestinal tract of humans. Symptoms include a sustained fever as high as 104ºF, weakness, cough, stomach pains, headache, and loss of appetite. Some patients have a rash of flat, rose-colored spots. Persons given antibiotics usually begin to feel better within 2 to 3 days, and death rarely occurs. Fever can continue for weeks and months in those who do not receive antibiotics. Of those not treated 20% will die from complications related to the infection. A small number of people, known as carriers, recover from Typhoid Fever but continue to carry the bacteria. Both ill persons and carriers shed Salmonella typhi in their stools. Even after symptoms recede, a person can still carry Salmonella typhi, in which case the illness could return or be passed on to others. For that reason it is imperative that patients keep taking antibiotics for the full length of time prescribed by their doctor. Those suffering from Typhoid Fever must not prepare food or serve it to others.

    Great pools of sewage lay in some areas and mosquitoes are breeding in it, carrying the diseases to holiday makers, who return home and become seriously ill.

    All it takes is the will and the money and the EU would even be willing to provide advice.


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