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Environment and health
Water resources quality in Barbados can be affected by the contamination from agricultural activity, the petrochemical industry, industrial facilities and hazardous wastes, urban development and domestic waste disposal, and solid and liquid waste disposal.
In 1963, the Government instituted a policy (revised in 1973) which created a system of five Groundwater Protection Zones implemented across the island to guard against bacteriological contamination of the public water supply wells. The most stringent regulations are enforced in the Zone I area which is located immediately around all existing and potential public water supply sites. Zones 2 to 5 provide progressively less stringent controls. The policy, however, does not address chemical contamination and still needs specific legislative authority.
The zoning system, along with an effective disinfection system, has been partially effective in ensuring a biologically-safe water supply. Diseases such as cholera, dysentery, giardiasis or hepatitis have not occurred in Barbados on any significant scale (MPDE, 2001).
The impacts of climate change on freshwater in Barbados are estimated to be an increase severity of droughts and a sea level rise which increase salt water intrusion within freshwater aquifers (UN, 2004).