Barbados Opens Largest Brackish Water Desalination Facility in Caribbean

June 23, 2000

A new desalination plant on the island nation of Barbados has become the largest brackish water desalination facility in the Caribbean.

The desalination plant, which was opened recently, is designed and maintained by Ionics Freshwater, Inc., a separations technology company, in partnership with Barbados-based Williams Industries, Inc. It will provide fresh, potable drinking water to one-sixth of the island's 264,000 people. The plant utilizes reverse osmosis (RO) membrane technology to treat 30,000 cubic meters (7.9 million gallons) of water per day.

Barbados is classified by the United Nations Commission on Water as a "water scarce" country, just ahead of desert countries in the Middle East on per capita water availability, said Rommel Marshall, minister of Public Works and Transport. "The drought of 1994-1995 served to put the nation on notice that we could no longer continue to take our water supply for granted, and needed to take very serious stock of the situation," he said.

Desalinated water is being provided to the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) on a "build-own-operate" or privatized basis by Ionics Freshwater, Ltd. in partnership with Williams Industries. Under the terms of the agreement, Ionics will operate and maintain the facility and sell the desalinated water to the BWA for up to 15 years.

"This facility is now our most secure source of potable water," Rommel said. "It is technologically capable of producing pure water from a wide variety of quality of feedwater supplies. This plant becomes a safety net, without which we have been doing our balancing acts for too long."

In conjunction with the new desalination facility, a water education center also was established to serve as a venue for school children, island visitors and the general public to learn about water, its history on the island and the role of water desalination.

(Source: Ionics, Inc.)

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