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Water management, policies and legislation related to water use in agriculture


The major institutions related to water resources are:

  • Barbados Water Authority (BWA): was created in 1981 and is a Statutory Body charged with supplying the island with potable water as well as the provision of wastewater treatment and disposal services to the areas of Bridgetown and the South Coast. The Authority is also responsible for the monitoring, assessment, control and protection of the water resources in the public’s interest (BWA, 2014).
  • National Commission on Sustainable Development (NCSD): has the mandate to advise the government on measures required to integrate environmental and economic considerations in decision-making processes and on global issues of sustainable development (UN, 2004).
  • Environmental Protection Department: belongs to the Ministry of Environment, Water Resources and Drainage and is responsible of water quality monitoring, public health protection and control of effluent disposal.
  • Drainage Unit: belongs to the Ministry of Transport Works and International Transport is responsible of digging and maintenance of drainage wells, construction of dams and permits for drainage works.
  • Soil Conservation Unit: was established in 1957, in the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), and addresses the many special land conservation and stability problems occurring in Scotland district.
  • Land and Water Use Unit: belongs to the Ministry of Agriculture and is responsible for the hydrology and agrometeorological data and irrigation extension and agronomy (GoB, 2008).
  • Barbados Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (BADMC): belongs to MoA and is responsible of the provision of water for irrigation, water quality monitoring and well development.
  • Irrigation Engineering Unit (IEU): is a department of BADMC of MoA, developed from the Integrated Rural Development Project (IRDP), which commenced in 1981. Its vision statement is to satisfy the irrigation water requirements of the farming districts serviced by government-financed irrigation systems and to continue the expansion of such systems into new farming communities (MoA, 2015).

Water management

Barbados belongs to the top 20 of the world’s most water scarce countries, where the competing demands for freshwater resources are increasing as it seeks to develop and grow its economy. Water management and pollution of groundwater and surface water are issues that must be addressed as these resources strengthen sustained economic growth and development. The 2005 National Development Plan has recognized the importance of good water management and the government committed itself to preparing an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Plan for the country. BWA and the Coastal Zone Management Unit have taken the initiative to develop a “roadmap”, policy and plan for IWRM at national level (GoB, 2008).


Water rates are subsided at US$0.44 per m3 in the Integrated Rural Development Project (IRDP) systems and US$0.33 per m3 at the Spring Hall Land Lease Project (SHLLP). It has not changed during the past 15 years. By comparison, other commercial rates are US$2.97 per m3 (MoA, 2015).

Policies and legislation

The process of policy formulation is generally conducted through the work of a committee of experts and stakeholders (UN, 2004).

Relevant water resources legislation and policies include (GoB, 2008):

  • Barbados Water Authority Act (1980): establishes the Barbados Water Authority.
  • Underground Water Control Act (1953): provides for the control and use of the underground sources of water supply in the island. It establishes a Water Board for the purpose of this Act. Licenses from the Board are required for the sinking of wells and for the obstruction of underground water.
  • Heath Services Act (1969): allows the Minister to divide Barbados into health and sanitation districts. The Minister has the power to construct sewers. This Act also prohibits taking water from public taps without permission.
  • Irrigation Act (1967): allows the Chief Agriculture to order to carry out surveys, investigation or research for irrigation purposes, to distribute water and to control or operate waterworks.
  • Prevention of Floods Act (1951): makes provision for measures for the prevention of floods.
  • National Strategic Plan 2005-2025 (2007): has within its goals to promote and facilitate the environmentally sustainable use of natural resources and to maintain a safe and reliable water supply.
  • National Water Conservation Plan: comprises two parts: long-term ongoing measures such as leakage reduction and universal metering and short-term measures such as temporary shutdown of parts of the system on a rotational basis or temporary licence restrictions on private abstractions (UN, 2004).
  • Groundwater Zoning Policy: implemented through the Town and Country Planning Office in collaboration with the BWA, it controls development in areas of groundwater abstraction as a way of protecting groundwater resources (GoB, 2008).


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       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
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