PARAMARIBO, Suriname, Wednesday November 23, 2016 – The little to no rainfall which has left taps dry in several Caribbean islands has turned into a nightmare for several Governments. But it’s a dream come true for water-rich Suriname which is more than anxious to flood its regional neighbours with the precious commodity.
This week, the Dutch Company Amazone Resources will tow a FlexTank, a giant modular water bag made from PVC-coated material, carrying two million litres of surface water to Barbados and Curacao to test run technology.
This will be the first time ever a bulk water bag will be towed over such a long distance (approx. 1000 kilometres).
“Water is our blue gold,” Erlyn Power of Amazone Resources told Bloomberg. “I visit islands where people are having their water turned off and here we have so much of it that it’s just flowing into the sea.”
Since last year, prolonged drought conditions in Barbados, already deemed a water scarce country, have virtually depleted the island’s reservoirs.
Northern and eastern parishes were particularly hard hit with residents going without water for weeks.
In response, the BWA enforced a water restriction policy, set up community water tanks in affected areas and commissioned two portable desalination plants to help address the problem among other things.
At the height of the crisis, news emerged from Trinidad that the Barbados Government had signed a deal with Amazone Resources to provide water to the island. But the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) later clarified that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the company in October to facilitate a “test run to inform future decisions relative to cost, water quality monitoring and acceptance protocols, appropriate uses of the water and design and construction of appropriate receiving and pumping infrastructure.”
Amazone Resources, which stressed that its water meets World Health Organization standards, filled the FlexTank in a grand ceremony in Suriname’s capital, Paramaribo, yesterday. The shipment is expected to reach Bridgetown in a few days.
The bags, which can be tethered together and pulled behind a boat, float near the ocean’s surface due to the difference in density between fresh water and saltwater.
According to Amazone Resources officials, if the test run is successful, the company will order bigger bags, costing more than $500,000 each, capable of holding 16 times more water.
Engineer Auke Piek is confident this is the best solution for Suriname’s Caribbean Community neighbours in light of predictions that drought conditions are likely to worsen. He assured it was cheaper than the desalination and water treatments plants, but declined to provide pricing.