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Protecting Barbados’ Water Supply



#Barbados, March 16, 2018 – The United Nations considers universal access to clean drinking water to be a basic human right.  According to the World Health Organization, one-tenth of the global disease burden could be prevented by increasing access to safe drinking water; improving sanitation and hygiene; and improving water management to reduce the risks of water-borne diseases.

In Barbados, the Ministry of Health is one of the agencies charged with protecting the island’s water supply through a programme of systematic monitoring and surveillance.

According to environmental health specialist in the Ministry, Steve Daniel, the programme’s objective is to identify any potential hazards or risks in the drinking water supply within the distribution system; and in the event that hazards are identified, to promptly take the steps necessary to resolve the issues.

He assured: “Our methodologies allow us to quickly respond to put mitigation measures in place for the protection of public health.  As it relates to drinking water, Barbadians can be assured that the Ministry of Health utilises all its resources and follows all internationally recognised standards and protocols for the monitoring of water.”

The water quality specialist defined good drinking water as water that was free of pathogenic or toxic materials.  “Outside of that, there are also what we call organoleptic properties of water, which speak to the quality in terms of taste, colour and odour.  Good drinking water is free of colour, taste and odour.”

Barbados’ water supply originates in underground aquifers that are accessed through the digging of deep wells, while a small percentage comes through the desalination process.  It is pumped by the Barbados Water Authority to the reservoirs and from there, feeds into the distribution system.

Water wells are located only in Zone One protected areas, where development is restricted to minimise the potential contamination of the water supply aquifer from disposal waste.

The Environmental Health Department conducts routine sampling of potable water on a weekly basis within seven public health catchments, as well as the ports of entry. A minimum of 44 samples is delivered to the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory for analysis each week.

Mr. Daniel explained that the findings which would constitute a public health threat related to microorganisms that fall within the coliform group. “Within that group of microorganisms, I’m making reference to E-coli, total coliform and faecal coliform. In addition, toxic chemicals that can be in water are periodically tested for by the Environmental Protection Department, which collaborates with the Ministry of Health.”

In light of the challenges posed by the sewage spills on the south coast, the Ministry official said the Environmental Health Department was particularly focused on the area to make sure that public health was maintained.

“The methodology that is employed there is a risk assessment methodology, whereby the focus is on chlorine residual testing that is done on a weekly basis, in addition to taking the routine samples.”

He explained that the purpose of chlorine residual tests, which were carried out on site, was to determine the level of chlorine in the water.  “The reason we do this is that chlorine has an inverse relationship with pathogenic microorganisms, so in other words, the presence of chlorine to satisfactory levels basically indicates to us that the risk of dangerous microorganisms is low.

“In the case where the officer suspects there may be a need for further investigation, the samples are taken, the appropriate chain of custody forms filled out, and the protocols in terms of delivering in ice and within the correct time periods are followed in terms of delivery to the laboratory for analysis.”

The water quality specialist also cautioned householders about the importance of making sure that their water filters and storage tanks were properly maintained, since failure to do this could also affect water quality.

“Water can start at the source and be safe as it relates to the chemicals that are added to protect it.  And, it can continue to be safe throughout the distribution system.  However, there are many environmental factors that can affect your quality when it is delivered at your tap.”

Mr. Daniel said that a household filter, which was not maintained in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, could become a source of delivery for all the residue or contaminants that it was intended to remove.  The same was true for water storage tanks, he submitted, and he advised that these containers should be routinely cleaned and sanitised.

“So, if you go on vacation, for instance, and you don’t use your water for a period of time, you must appreciate that the water in your tank will stagnate.  When water stagnates, it basically allows for the build-up of some microorganisms, such as pseudomonas, or what we sometimes refer to as heterotrophic plate count microorganisms.”

The growth of these microorganisms, he disclosed, could significantly impact the quality of water received at the tap and would not necessarily be a reflection of what started out at the source.

Mr. Daniel, therefore, advised: “There is some responsibility on householders to understand how their water supply system works and to monitor it, so that they can put correct measures in place to ensure that they are receiving the safest possible supply of water.”

By: Joy Springer (GIS)


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Caribbean News

Construction Industry Continues to Grow



#Jamaica, November 27, 2021 – The Construction industry continues to figure in Jamaica’s gradual recovery from the economic fallout precipitated by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The sector is estimated to have grown by 1.7 per cent during the July to September 2021 quarter, relative to the corresponding period last year, and contributed to the Goods Producing Industry’s 2.8 per cent expansion over the three months.

Director General of the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Dr. Wayne Henry, said the out-turn for construction was spurred by growth in the ‘Other Construction’ and ‘Building Construction’ components.  This, he added, reflected a 5.6 per cent increase in sales of construction and related inputs.

The Director General was speaking during the PIOJ’s digital quarterly media briefing, on Wednesday (November 24).

Dr. Henry said growth in the ‘Other Construction’ component resulted from increased capital expenditure on civil engineering activities during the review period  This was mainly reflected in the National Works Agency’s (NWA) disbursement of $9.1 billion, up from $5.1 billion in the corresponding quarter of 2020.

The Director General said the provision largely covered work on the Yallahs to Harbour View leg of the Southern Coastal Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP).  Additionally, Dr. Henry said the National Road Operating and Constructing Company Limited (NROCC) disbursed $2.2 billion, as against $1.3 billion in 2020.

“Expenditure facilitated works on the SCHIP Part ‘A’; that is, the May Pen in Clarendon to Williamsfield in Manchester component,” he told journalists.

Dr. Henry indicated that growth in the ‘Building Construction’ component was driven mainly by the performance of the non-residential category.  This, he said, reflected hotel construction and renovation activities, as well as the buildout of commercial office space.

The economy is estimated to have grown by an overall 6.3 per cent during the July to September 2021 quarter, with the Service Industry recording 7.3 per cent and the Goods Producing Industry 2.8 per cent.


Contact: Douglas McIntosh





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Caribbean News

SOEs To End This Weekend



#Jamaica, November 27, 2021 – The States of Public Emergency (SOEs) now in place in seven police divisions across the island will expire on Saturday (27 November).   This, after two resolutions to extend the SOEs until February 12, 2022, failed to get the required number of votes in the Senate, following a marathon sitting on Thursday (November 25).

The resolutions are the Emergency Powers (Parishes of St. James, Westmoreland, and Hanover) (Continuance) Resolution, 2021, and the Emergency Powers (Specified Areas in the Parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew) (Continuance) Resolution, 2021.

These apply to St. Andrew South, Kingston West, Kingston Central, and Kingston East in the Corporate Area, and St. James, Hanover, and Westmoreland.

Opposition Senators voted to end the enhanced security measures, which were announced by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness on November 14.

Thirteen senators voted to extend the measures; three voted against it; and five members were absent. The extension of emergency powers must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Upper House.

The resolutions, which were approved in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (November 23), needed one vote from an Opposition Senator to be approved.

Leader of Government Business in the Senate and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, expressed disappointment that the resolutions were not approved, noting that “it’s a sad day for the people of Jamaica and, in particular, it is a sad day for the people who live in the communities covered by the seven divisions of the SOEs.

“We convey our apologies to the security forces who recommended and have been utilising the space and who had hoped that the debate today would rise to the level of reason and regard for the professional advice given and the realities on the ground,” she said.

“I only regret that as Leader of Government Business, that this Senate has not delivered a better result to the people of Jamaica today,” she added.

President of the Senate, Senator the Hon. Tom Tavares-Finson also voiced his disappointment with the result of the vote.

The resolutions were moved by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda.


Contact: Alecia Smith


Photo Captions: 

Header: President of the Senate, Hon Tom Tavares-Finson, disappointed with the outcome of the vote to extend the States of Emergency in seven police divisions. Two resolutions were moved for extension of the SOEs but they failed to get the required two-thirds majority for approval.  Photo: Rudranrath Fraser

1st insert: Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, moved the resolutions to extend States of Emergency in seven police divisions. The resolutions did not get the approval of the house.  Photo: Rudranrath Fraser

2nd insert: Leader of Government Business in the Senate and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, expressed disappointment that the resolutions to extend the States of Emergency in seven police divisions did not pass. Thirteen senators voted to extend the measures, three voted against it, and five members were absent.  Photo: Rudranrath Fraser




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Bahamas News

Bahamian Para-Athlete Erin Brown to Become Godmother of RC’s Odyssey of The Seas



#TheBahamas, November 24, 2021 – A Bahamian woman who lost her leg to cancer and went on to defy odds and inspire thousands will be named godmother of Royal Caribbean International’s Odyssey of the Seas. Erin Brown, a 41-year-old mother of two and a para-triathlete who cycles, runs, swims and competes at an international level, will accept the honour at a special ceremony in Florida later this week.

“From the moment we heard the story of Erin, how her courage and determination in the face of adversity inspired others and led to a more inclusive consciousness about succeeding with disabilities, we were moved and knew she was a great candidate for godmother of our newest ship, Odyssey of the Seas,” said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “A godmother serves as the guiding spirit of the ship and brings good luck and safe travels to its crew and guests.”

While she was in college participating as a track and field athlete, Brown was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma after suffering a fall that resulted in a broken leg. After more than a year of chemotherapy, her tumor showed no signs of shrinking, and Brown made the difficult decision to amputate her limb above the knee. Brown, who watched her own mother struggle for five years before losing her battle with lupus linked to cancer, knew she had to keep going because her child depended on her. She underwent surgery and woke up to one less leg. “Mind over matter,” she repeated. And then, she re-invented herself.

She said she recognizes now that her disability was a signal to start over. The first time she completed the 100-mile cycling event, Ride for Hope, raising money for cancer research, education and prevention, she led a group of adaptive athletes who heard the thunderous applause and cheers from the crowd that had witnessed the one-legged cyclist achieve what few with two legs could on the hilly terrain.

“A sudden change like the one I experienced is just an opportunity to rebrand yourself to yourself and to society. All those skills you had before – you still have them,” said Brown who has gone on to become an advocate for rights for the disabled and works at the University of The Bahamas as the compliance officer and counselor for the physically challenged.

“Having Erin as our godmother is a fitting way for us to pay tribute to The Bahamas,” said Bayley. “Our company’s very first port of call outside the U. S. was to The Bahamas more than 50 years ago. To this day, Nassau remains one of our most popular ports of call and Perfect Day at CocoCay remains our top pick by our guests. We are excited about this ceremony and honouring our long-time partners, as well as the newest Bahamian flagged ship in our fleet.”


Photo Caption: Erin Brown, who calls herself a limb-difference individual, will be named the first Bahamian Godmother of a Royal Caribbean International vessel when she presides over the naming of Odyssey of the Seas.

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