Farmers fuming after water well contaminated with dirty oil

contaminated well
The water is believed to have been contaminated deliberately (Photos via Ministry of Agriculture Facebook page)
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By Robert A. Emmanuel

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Water is the most essential resource for livestock and crop farmers and, in Antigua and Barbuda where that supply is limited, its value is more profound.

A recent report from a local farmer left government officials in disbelief after it was discovered that a well frequently used by farmers in the Cades Bay area had been contaminated with dirty oil.

“Something like this is very easy to do because the wells in Antigua and Barbuda are not highly secured,” Director of Agriculture Gregory Bailey told Observer, as he cautioned farmers and residents in these areas to alert authorities immediately upon noticing any suspicious activity.

According to a Ministry of Agriculture Facebook post, farmer John Cox reported that the well was tainted with oil. Evidence found infers the act was deliberate.

“An official report was made to the Johnson’s Point Police Station where follow-ups will be conducted. Additionally, the Department of the Environment will be brought on board to conduct further evaluation,” the social media post said.

“In a water scarce country like Antigua and Barbuda every drop of water is important, so the suspicion is that there have been some ‘delinquent’ livestock farmer parading their livestock through people’s property and it could have been one of the aggrieved property owners, but this is just speculation,” the director stated, adding that the matter was now in police hands. Police have been approached for comment.

The Director of Agriculture along with representatives from APUA and the Agricultural Extension Division conducted a site visit after they received the report.

The farmer stated that approximately three days ago he retrieved clean water from the well to provide his animals with drinking water, only to return a day later to the tainted water.

According to Bailey, the well is not part of APUA’s normal water distribution network and while it was reportedly never dry and often used by farmers for household and farming purposes, it was not protected in the same manner as other wells would have been.

“Some of them that APUA use to provide the public with water — note that this well is not one —they normally have a building around them which is locked but this one was more or less an abandoned well that was being used by livestock and other farmers in the area, so it is not a well that provides pipe-borne water,” Bailey explained.

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