December 2018 : Barbados South Coast Sewage Problems & Worthing Beach Closure
(Latest updates are listed at the bottom of this post)
The ongoing sewage issues on the South Coast of the island have progressively worsened over the past few months. Having said that, this problem has been prevalent for over a year without any remedy or serious interest in rectifying it until recently.
Within the past 2+ months there’s been a steady stream of effluent coming from a number of manhole covers along a 3km stretch of the Barbados South Coast. This has forced the closure of businesses and cancellation of an undisclosed number of visitors to the island. Those more seriously affected have sought alternate locations to spend the remainder of their holiday and some chose not to return until it’s been rectified.
One of the most seriously affected businesses has been Chicken Barn which had to close its doors in December due to the steady stream of effluent coming from a manhole cover located in their driveway. At the time of this article (January 2018), there’s still a steady flow coming from the manhole and a substantial amount of effluent settled to the rear of the property.
The Worthing Post Office has also closed in December due to this problem at yet another manhole.
Is there a fix in progress ?
The Barbados Water Authority has started to implement an adjustment in the hope of alleviating this issue, however to date nothing has been successful. Latest development was that a new pump was needed to assist in the problem.
With this issue ongoing for just over a year, it raises the question as to why it wasn’t dealt with before It reached what some consider a “national crisis”.
Barbados, like the rest of the Caribbean is in the peak of winter season where the highest number of guests visit the region by air and sea. Recent media reports and Government indicate this is a “record year” for visitor arrivals to the island. Why has the sewage issue not been addressed previously so this record number of visitors would have a more pleasant experience? Possibly a situation of wait to see if it will fix itself or wait until it gets worse. The constant negative press associated with this should be an indicator to Government that the high numbers may soon fall off. Additionally, due to the catastrophic destruction of some other Caribbean islands last year, many travelers have resorted on Barbados to fill this winter season. This may not be a permanent situation if things aren’t addressed.
Affected Areas With Effluent (January 2018)
AREA #1 (major)
Chicken Barn restaurant (now closed) still has effluent flowing into the driveway of the property.
The adjacent manhole on the opposite side of the road by Shop Smart has been known to occasionally leak.
AREA #2 (new)
Exit of SOL Service Station, daily settling of effluent.
AREA #3 (new / minor)
Worthing main road on the opposite side of SOL Service Station.
AREA #4 (major)
Rendezvous road going north towards the Massy Supermarket. These have been the very first two which have been leaking over 1 year. Initially only with heavy rainfall, but now there’s a constant outflow of effluent. This has affected the Worthing Post Office (still closed) and neighboring properties. Pedestrians and motorists have also reported being splashed at one time or another by this outflow.
AREA #5 (new / major)
ENTRANCE / EXIT Massy Supermarket
This is another new development and has brought along the strong odor when going in or out of the supermarket. Management has been reportedly spending thousands of dollars washing down the area and disinfecting numerous times daily.
Unfortunately, more would need to be spent as vehicles still constant drive through this effluent, park and then patrons proceed into the supermarket. So we foresee more measures being put in place to eliminate the spread of any bacteria / pathogens.
AREA #6 (major)
This also is one the more disturbing areas as there is still a constant flow of effluent from this located on the road at the exit of Lanterns Mall. The mall KFC and Tappas Restaurant have all manages to remain open during this time. The Esso Service Station adjacent to Lanterns Mall has closed, however we are unsure if it was due to this same problem.
The Ministry of Transport & Works has painted a new zebra crossing a metres east as a temporary relocation of the one directly by Lanterns Mall. The bus stop still remains in its current location directly by Lanterns.
AREA #7 (minor)
Continuing towards town from Lanterns Mall an occasional leak surfaces just before the open area to the boardwalk.
Any Health Issues?
The Ministry of Health has recently implemented a twice weekly fogging routine in the affected areas due to increased stagnant water and breeding ground for mosquito borne diseases. Meanwhile visitors and residents near the boardwalk have reported an increase in rodent activity. Worthing Beach has been reportedly tested weekly and still safe for bathing.
Accra has not been affected by these issues.
Barbados Today news article "Tourists raise a stink over sewage problem": click to view
Nation News article "Visitors Turning up their noses": click to view
Government of Canada has issues the following travel advisory for Barbados... This was also followed by one from the USA & UK
UPDATE : 9th January 2018
The Barbados Water Authority has implemented a temporary fix which has included the shut-off of water in some areas on a nightly basis. This in effect to to lessen the amount of waste water flowing in the system and lowering the levels. Currently all above listed areas have been dry for 2 days.
UPDATE : 23rd January 2018
Despite the efforts of a "fix".... the flow of effluent returned on the 19th January during the night at all locations. This was most prominent in Hastings where a viral video shows the gushing through the corners of the manhole cover. Four days later it has not been as bad, however it's once again affecting the streets of the South Coast.
UPDATE : 27th January 2018
The U.S. Embassy has issued the above Health Alert for their staff on the 25th January 2018. See full report and video from Barbados officials regarding this latest advisory here on Loop News.
QUESTIONS OF INTEREST ON BARBADOS WATER QUALITY
1. Why would the U.S. Embassy issue an advisory unless there was some truth to their findings?
2. Why are the Barbados Water Authority tests not made public?
3. Why are they tests made at beaches along the south coast not public?
4. Would a government deliberately avoid making such information public or admitting the U.S. Embassy tests are correct if they deemed it damaging to the economy? Being that Barbados is completely dependent on tourism; any "further" negative news which affects visitors coming to the island would effectively cripple the country.
QUESTIONS OF INTEREST ON GASTROENTERITIS
There were 35 reported cases of gastroenteritis in Barbados within the first few days of 2018.
1. Each person affected with gastro would have visited a doctor or hospital and subsequent questions asked regarding what they may have done to contract such. As this could be considered an outbreak, why wasn't the public made aware of this sooner?
2. Why almost 3 weeks later the public was then told the cases were linked to a local restaurant?
3. Why has the government not officially named this restaurant? (we are unfortunately not at liberty to name said restaurant)
4. Why is this restaurant still open for business to this day?
5. Why did the management of this restaurant not close its operation?
UPDATE : 28th March 2018
A temporary fix has been put in place approximately 3 weeks ago which also saw the "sealing" of the affected manhole covers. This has seen a drastic improvement with some areas being completely dry and previously affected businesses due to reopen by next week. Despite the temporary measures there's still the occasional seepage but not to the extent as previously seen in the Worthing area. On Sunday 25th March there was a massive overflow from another manhole cover by the exit of Lanterns, once again filling that road completely with effluent. However by yesterday (27th March) this was also rectified. Let's hope these temporary fixes continue to work until a more permanent solution is found.
UPDATE : 8th April 2018
There's been a significant reduction in visible overflow in the Hastings area which most days now has provided dry roads or very little external flow. The Worthing area has not been as fortunate as the last few days there's been once again a constant flow from the manhole just outside of CIBC bank. This flows past the entrance to the bank and into the drain just outside of the Worthing Post Office. It's uncertain where this drain leads. The manhole at the entrance to the Massy Supermarket is once again showing slight signs of leakage which trails into the entrance of the car park. Constant pumping of effluent on the opposite side of Material Things has been ongoing for a few months and effluent flow is encroaching more and more into the road. With many "fixes" over the past few months, there's still much that needs to be done to see a permanent improvement.
UPDATE : 3rd May 2018
After a few days of dry roads in the Worthing area; the Post Office was finally scheduled to re-open just before Easter. This unfortunately was short-lived as the flow returned once again and forced the closure of the post office once again. Remains closed to this day. The flow is once again reduced in that area with a minor seepage still happening by the entrance to Massy Supermarket. A persistent settling of water was evident by the exit for approximately 2-3 days but was repaired recently and now seems to be rectified. On related business news; Chicken Barn restaurant which was closed in late 2017 will be finally be re-opening today after extensive repairs and cleaning. Coincidentally Stream Restaurant (located opposite the car park entrance to Worthing beach) was forced to close on the 27th April.
The pumping location opposite Material Things (just east of Chicken Barn) has been running for months with a constant settlement of effluent. This forces pedestrians to walk on the opposite side of the road and vehicles to encroach onto the westbound lane. A recent increase in this flow saw both sides of the road completely covered and has since been rectified by sandbagging the area so as to contain the flow. Accra Beach was a point in focus as a manhole cover began to leak raw sewage into a catchment area and unfortunately across the sand and into the sea. This thankfully was quickly rectified and a temporary dam built to stop the flow of sewage into the water. There's been constant sealing of affected manholes to stop / reduce the flow of the affected ones, however the reality is the pressure buildup still needs to be vented somewhere and hence the new problem locations.
See related articles below on developments.
UPDATE : 8th May 2018
Worthing beach has been closed from 6pm - 12 noon each day recently due to the opening of the sluice gate at the Greame Hall Swamp. This along with Saragassum seaweed has turned the normally clear waters a murky brown colour. This has not been publicly linked directly to sewage in the water, however:
1. The majority of the beaches which are said to be affected by Saragassum, show little signs of the seaweed (Worthing, St. Lawrence, Oistins etc). Saragassum has been very prevalent at Accra & Crane Beach and noticeably visible.
Dark waters of the south coast beaches would appear to be mainly due to the Greame Hall Swamp as the water also begins to clear a bit in the afternoon.
2. Previous news and press reports have stated there was a seepage of sewage / effluent into the Swamp within the past few months. This along with a video of an unknown flow of water being drained into the Swamp. Conveniently previous articles or mention of this have not been included in recent press releases to indicate this will be the same water being drained. They have however placed red flags along the Worthing Beach warning persons not to swim.
UPDATE : 4th June 2018
As we start another month there was hope that this latest update would bring good news; however most situations still remain unchanged. Within the past 2 weeks Barbados has had a change of Government and the newly elected Prime Minister visited the affected areas along with the South Coast Sewage Plant. The matter she agreed has gone on for far too long and has promised to have it dealt with as a matter of urgency. Aside from politics.... there's been a constant heavy flow just outside of the Worthing Post Office which has been ongoing 24hrs a day for just over 2 weeks. As is the case when one or two manholes are sealed, another one seems to always erupt. This is currently the only one affecting that area. Worthing main road is still seeing the pumping being done without change. Hastings also had some flare-ups, however they are currently working on sealing another two manholes in the same affected areas (KFC and just past Lanterns). BEACHES Worthing / Sandy Beach has been essentially closed for sea bathing for a few weeks due to the release of the swamp into the water. This has had the waters in that area in murky brown colour and affected from St. Lawrence Bay to Accra at times. Accra beach has also seen a decrease of visitors to the beach, however uncertain if they're also red flags along that stretch. During one recent press conference with the new Government, it was stated that the high water levels in the swamp were indeed linked to the sewage flow. As previously assumed and speculated by many, however this was never publicly announced. Another unfortunate addition to the shores has been a recent blanketing of sargassum seaweed on some East Coast beaches. Crane, Bathsheba & Skeete's Bay have been most adversely affected making swimming impossible. The recent phenomenon has also affected quite a number of Caribbean islands as far north as Antigua. We will be sure to advise of any additional changes to the current sewage situation and beach access.
UPDATE : 1st July 2018
This update has been delayed a few weeks so as to confirm a few things remained without adverse effect. As of today, the roads of the South Coast have been free from flowing effluent for approximately 2+ weeks. We are pleased to confirm that measures put in place by the new Government have been making a significant improvement on the state of these roads and issues. The pumping which has been ongoing for months on the opposite side of Material Things has also now ceased and persons can walk without the issue of encountering liquid waste or offensive odour. The Barbados Water Authority is currently work on an area at the entrance to the Greame Hall Nature Sanctuary, but this in no way affects the condition of the street. The condition and future of the swamp will be also addressed and a remedy addressed in due course. As sewage isn't constantly flowing into the swamp, the levels have been much lower, however we are uncertain if this water is still being released into the nearby Sandy Beach. This may be the last issue to have resolved.
This however will be our last public update and would like to thank those that have endured the past few months (years) waiting for a remedy. To those who have also contacted us for details and updates; we are still always at your disposal to answer any further questions you may have. Happy & Safe Travels! Amendment: 29th AUGUST 2018 As there is still quite an active interest in the topic we decided to add a short amended update on the most recent situation. Quite a few persons have contacted us regarding their travel plans but we're aware others are still interested in an update. The streets on the south coast have still remained clean and without any return of the previous problems plaguing that area.
A part of that solution was the implementation of injection wells which went into effect late June / early July. Unfortunately this system has failed and was recently announced that some of that flow was now directed into the Greame Hall Swamp. This has caused the levels of the said swamp to rise and it's now opened daily to help lower those levels. The process of opening the gate to the swamp is not uncommon and has been done for decades, however at that time it was an active eco-system with live fish, birds etc.
Now due to the contamination of effluent in this water; the Ministry has closed the Worthing Beach indefinitely. The Worthing Beach (or as some know it as Sandy Beach) runs from the sluice gate by the swamp westward just past Rendezvous. The next beach around the cliff face would be Accra / Rockley.
Accra Beach still remain "officially" open, however the activity has decreased and some hotels have advised their guests to avoid swimming at that location. The west coast remains the best option for swimming and a few beaches further down the coast. We will do our best to review some of the alternate beaches and provide an update.