Ionics, Incorporated and Barbados-based Williams Industries, Inc. participated,
along with local officials, in the dedication of the largest brackish water
desalination facility in the Caribbean located in Barbados, West Indies.
The Honorable Rommel Marshall, Minister of Public Works and Transport, officiated.
The new water desalination plant will provide fresh, potable drinking water
to one-sixth of the island's 264,000 people. The 30,000 cubic meter per
day (7.9 million gallons per day) plant utilizes reverse osmosis (RO) membrane
In conjunction with the new desalination facility, a water education center
was also established that will 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.
At the dedication ceremony, Minister Rommel indicated, "In spite of
what many think, Barbados, with its reputation for an excellent water supply,
is classified by the United Nations Commission on Water as a "water
scarce" country, putting it just ahead of the desert nations of the
Middle East for per capita water availability, and making it extremely vulnerable
to the effects of cyclical droughts. The drought of 1994-1995 served to
put the nation on notice that no longer could we continue to take our water
supply for granted, and that it was necessary for us to take very serious
stock of the situation."
According to the Chairman of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA), Mr. David
Millington, "The Barbados Government was determined that the island's
economic development would not be held back by the lack of availability
of fresh water."
Desalinated water is being provided to the BWA on a "build-own-operate"
or privatized basis by Ionics Freshwater Ltd., a joint venture between Ionics
and Williams Industries. Under the terms of the agreement, Ionics Freshwater
Ltd. 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, being
technologically capable of providing pure water over a wide variation in
quality of feedwater supplies and, in the event of a national disaster,
which of course we hope and pray will never occur, would be the one source
likely to suffer least. In many respects this plant becomes a safety net,
without which we have been doing our balancing acts for too long,"
according to Minister Rommel.
Ralph S. Williams, Chairman of Williams Industries said, "Our company's
motto is "working to build a stronger nation" and since we know
that a nation cannot be strong without an adequate supply of clean, fresh
water, we jumped at the opportunity to strengthen our nation when this project
was put out to international tender. This desalination plant represents
a true spirit of real, practical on the ground cooperation between a major
US corporation and a local company. We believe we could not possibly have
chosen a better partner in Ionics."
Arthur L. Goldstein, Ionics' Chairman and CEO noted that, "We are very
proud to be a member of the team that put this project together. The success
of any project of this type - where we are entrusted with a responsibility
to the public to supply a principal resource, water, - depends upon a healthy
relationship based upon trust and mutual respect. Among the Barbados Water
Authority, Williams Industries and Ionics, I believe we have that healthy
Mr. Goldstein announced at the official opening ceremony that Ionics, Incorporated
would be awarding a scholarship to a student pursuing studies in the field
of science and technology at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine
campus, "consistent both with the company's commitment to Barbados
and to the value placed on educating our youth, particularly in the disciplines
of science and engineering."