Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Capture run-off water!


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WATER-SCARCE BARBADOS is losing out on millions of gallons  of the precious resource by not collecting  surface run-off.
Geohydrologist at the Caribbean Institute  of Meteorology and Hydrology, Dr Andy Ward, says capturing that water is a much better option than going the route  of desalination.
Speaking to the DAILY NATION yesterday after a presentation at the  22nd Annual Caribbean Water And Wastewater Association’s Conference And Exhibition at  Hilton Barbados, Ward said millions of gallons more of water could be available if the authorities would just use the available technology to capture the excess water.  
“There are a couple  of studies that show we only get ground water recharged in Barbados about three months in  a year, and that’s when the rain falls intensely enough that it can penetrate pretty deep.  The rest of it is lost  by evapotranspiration – plants take it up or it evaporates – or it runs off to the ocean.
“We could capture those millions of gallons. There are lots of places around the world where people drink water from surface water supply. It can be treated to make it potable but right now we are allowing it to go to waste. I’m not sure why there is so much resistance to it here,” the researcher said.
With Barbados surrounded by the vast Caribbean Sea, desalination has been promoted as an alternative to  augment existing groundwater supplies.
Desalination or desalinization is the process of removing salt from seawater, which turns it into fresh drinking water.
However, Ward contended that is a much more expensive option.
“The Barbados Water Authority (BWA) is Barbados Light & Power’s largest customer, so when you look at how much money is being spent  on pumping water and desalinization requires the use of electricity in order for reverse osmosis  to occur, it’s not cheap,”  he said, adding there  was also a high cost attached to acquiring  the semipermeable membranes used in the desalination process.
“I don’t see how desalinization should ever be the first choice.”
Acting BWA general manager John Mwansa agreed.
“The issue of desalination will always be there to supplement the ground water but when is the best time to go that route since it’s more expensive?” asked Mwansa, who attended Ward’s presentation.
“If the model demonstrates that we could sustain our usage for the moment using available ground water resources, there is  no reason why we  should [go to] more expensive sources.”
Water manager at the Antigua Public Utilities Authority, Alex Rodrigues, a delegate at the conference, said in his country it cost $18  per thousand gallons to produce water through desalination, $4 per thousand gallons  for surface water and  $3 per thousand gallons for ground water.
“So you don’t have  to look too far. Right here  in the region we have  the information to make the right decision,” Ward told the DAILY NATION.


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