by RADHICA DE SILVA
Years ago the Fairfield River was so clean that it was used for baptism.
However, today the river has become so polluted that neither worshippers nor residents or even farmers care to go close to it.
This is because raw sewage from the HDC's Fairfield Housing Development has been flowing into the river.
The sewer treatment plant went down and unfiltered sewage has been flowing directly inside the river.
Blackened with filth, the river is now a dumping ground for dead animals, household waste and debris.
The Robin Singh Recreation Ground, named after a famous cricketer, borders the bank of the river but is hardly ever used because of the stench.
During an interview, public relations officer of the Valley Boys Sports Club Shannon Seeboo said the stench pervades over a six-mile radius and has curtailed many activities on the ground.
"We are calling on the authorities to fix this problem. We cannot use our ground. We no longer have test matches here. We have not had a sports and family day in over a year," Seeboo said.
He added, "The waste flowing from the sewer treatment plant is making life unbearable for us. People no longer use the ground to do exercise. Other teams do not want to come here to play us on our home ground."
Farmer Ike Smith said people also used the river water to irrigate their crops.
However, he said since the sewer contamination occurred they no longer do this.
"We have no choice but to hold off on planting because there is no water available now for the crops. We have prepared the land and we are waiting on the rains before we plant, "Smith said.
He added that many farmers have been using the river for over 50 years.
Jemma Buntin said she remembered the time when the Baptist worshippers used the river for baptism.
"Back then the river was crystal clear. We used to use the river to bathe and wash clothes. Now you can't even come here because of the filth," said Buntin.
Alderman of the Princes Town Regional Corporation Azim Bassarath said the state of the ground was an embarrassment to the greatest Indian cricketer and coach of the Barbados Trident team Robin Singh.
He said the issue of the river was raised at the Princes Town Regional council level and several attempts were made to get HDC and WASA to rectify the problem.
However, he said HDC indicated it was a WASA issue and WASA said it was an HDC issue.
He added that $2,400 was spent to purchase six loads of backfill which was placed on the edge of the ground to prevent balls from falling in the river.
A source at the sewer treatment plant said it was functional.
He said they were using machinery to pump oxygen into the facility