BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: Barbados has activated the first phase of a drought management plan, becoming the latest Caribbean country to implement special measures in light of a protracted drought.
Increasingly dry conditions in the country prompted the move, the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) announced.
A BWA taskforce has been established to monitor key drought parameters and to coordinate the process of taking appropriate action.
“At this time, the Authority is encouraging customers to practice good water use habits and employ voluntary conservation measures,” the BWA said in a statement. “These include abandoning the use of hoses for non-essential activities such as irrigating ornamental plants and washing vehicles. The BWA believes that voluntary conservation at this stage, if practiced island wide, will go a long way towards avoiding undue dislocations and water outages, should conditions deteriorate further.”
The BWA said if the situation demands, it will move to Stage Two. During Stage Two, the taskforce that has been set up will be expanded and an official prohibition will be issued.
“This will be the beginning of the mandatory stage which will also signal the start of night-time shut offs in selected distribution systems. Mechanisms will be put in place to police enforcement of the prohibition, with offenders being dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the BWA Act,” according to the statement.
The Drought Management Plan will be accelerated to Stage 3, the final stage, if the situation does not improve.
“At this point more austere measures will have to be employed,” said the BWA. “These will entail extended shut-offs in the distribution system, even at times during the day.”
The Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) has predicted a dry spell that will affect the entire region for months.
During the current drought, some areas of the nation have experienced water supply problems. The situation has been aggravated by numerous bush fires, which require large amounts of water to extinguish them.
At least one of the fires threatened one of the BWA’s pumping facilities and affected the Authority’s ability to supply water from that location for several days.