One local meteorologist cited in another section of the Press has warned that Barbados could be facing a short-term drought in the near future as a result of low rainfall, which has been below average.
One hopes that projections improve, but at the same time Barbadians would be wise to remember past experiences and modify their behaviours to suit with regard to water usage.
It seems like every few years there is a concern with low rainfall and scarce water supplies. The lone water supplier on the island, the Barbados Water Authority (BWA), has been addressing this challenge continuously.
In the past, staff at that entity have worked tirelessly to impart a water conservation message by sending representatives out into the communities and schools to educate on proper water use and by launching a highly visible media information campaign aimed at changing the general public’s behaviour with regard to water conservation. The BWA has also worked to improve its response times to reports of burst mains and leakages, in addition to changing a number of old mains.
Despite these efforts, there are often several occasions when communities across the island are without the precious resource. So what can be done?
One fact that is undeniable is that Barbados is remains a water scarce country. The United Nations classifies countries as water scarce when each individual in that country is allocated less than 1 000 cubic meters of water per year. Back in 1994, with a population of approximately 250 000, Barbados allocated a mere 390 cubic metres of water to each person, per year. Since then our population has grown to over 285 000. Certainly this situation is not as dire as other states across the globe which have poor infrastructure and which also have to battle devastating droughts, like many South African nations.
However, there is still a need for us to be proactive. And one way is by modifying what can be changed – individual habits. Every single man, woman and child living in this country must play their part. People need to follow the advice being given and reduce water usage. Follow the conservation tips, for instance, avoid sprinklers, dishwashers, excessive use of washing machines, and use buckets of water to wash cars etc, instead of running water through a hose. Take an active role, do not wait for your neighbours to do the right thing, instead, lead by example.
We would not want government to have to reintroduce water restrictions like it has done in the past, or have more of our communities affected by outages, therefore every individual must get onboard.
At the same time, we urge Government to invest in research and implementation of any programme that would see more water being made available for use, for example a wide scale desalination plant, and also urge the BWA to continue to improve its response times to leaks.