Monday, April 22, 2024

Senator: Education on water reuse is key

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Senator Dr Shantal Munro-Knight believes that educating Barbadians on water reuse will be essential in the coming months as the nation deals with water shortage issues.

She made this statement while speaking in the Senate yesterday on the Water Reuse Bill 2023 which provides for the capture, collection, treatment and reuse of wastewater for various purposes.

The timing of this Bill comes following last month’s water prohibition measures put in place by Deputy Prime Minister Santia Bradshaw to combat the current drought-like conditions.

“The notion of water reuse is going to be something that as a country that we are all going to come to terms with as an essential facet of how we deal with our water resources,” Munro-Knight began.

“A critical component, of course, is the need to make sure that the society is educated and understands the multiple ways in which we can reuse or reclaim this water as an asset in relation to our water uses.”

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office with Responsibility for Culture added that in the context of water reuse, there were benefits in it beyond just adding to the water supply.

She said: “The water that we are going to reuse, as I understand it, has some nutrients in it that are good for agricultural uses. It is not just that use of the extent to which we can add to our water supply. Actually we had signed onto a protocol concerning pollution from land based sources, and under that protocol, we undertook to make sure that we develop the standards, practices, plans and measures for the prevention, reduction and control of land based pollution that will impact the marine environment. This Bill is also a key step in implementing that protocol.”

Munro-Knight stressed that the administration of this act would fall on the Ministry of Health and be operationalised by a cross-sectoral water reuse committee.

“Why does it fall under the context of the Ministry of Health? Because we understand that this is a health issue as well. It is a health concern and therefore the Ministry of Health will be tasked in providing the leadership for the administration of this Bill,” she explained.

The functions of the Water Reuse Committee are:

  1. To consider and make recommendations to the Minister on any application for a wastewater treatment permit
  2. Determine the suitability of premises and structures on premises for a wastewater treatment plant for the production of reclaimed water for sale or other supply to persons.
  3. Monitor each permit holder to determine whether the permit holder is in compliance with this Act and the terms and conditions of his permit.
  4. Inquire into any complaint made against a permit holder.
  5. Make recommendations, where appropriate, on the suspension or revocation of any wastewater treatment permit.

Wastewater has three categories: agricultural wastewater, domestic wastewater and industrial wastewater. Agricultural waste water is defined in the Bill as:

  1. Excess water that runs off the field or other areas during surface irrigation or watering, containing salts, nutrients, pesticides, herbicides and other agricultural chemicals from the field or other areas.
  2. Wastewater generated from the handling of crops and from food processing operations, usually with a high concentration of organic matter
  3. Wastewater generated from caring for and slaughtering farm animals.

Domestic wastewater is defined as black water and grey water generated in a house or other dwelling place.

Industrial wastewater is defined as wastewater, containing toxic or non-toxic chemical compounds or biological matter, generated in

  1. A manufacturing or industrial process as a means of cooling during the process.
  2. A production process, and later separated.
  3. Office buildings, stores, shops and commercial centres. (JC)

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