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Water plants cannot meet demand during dry spell

Contractors work on a $30 million water and sewage system for the East End - underway since last February - and expected to be finished by the end of this year. (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

The island’s water production plants cannot meet current demand, MPs were told on Friday.

David Burch, the public works minister, said water access was being restricted because rainfall was 34 per cent lower than the average for May and June. Just 6.66ins had fallen over the two months, compared to the average of 10ins.

He said sales of freshwater from government wells were 12 percent or 160,000 gallons higher than in the same period in 2020.

Lieutenant Colonel Burch said the reservoirs at Fort Prospect, Devonshire were being maintained at between 25 per cent and 50 per cent of capacity.

He said the West End Development Corporation is helping in the west by providing supplementary water supply to a section of the system located between Dockyard and Watford Bridge.

He said: “As with all types of infrastructure, any catastrophic failure of the above plant or infrastructure will likely necessitate further reduced access to water by piped and water trucker customers until the failure is corrected.”

Lieutenant Colonel Burch said the additional demand was being met by the installation of reverse osmosis water treatment systems at Tudor Hill, Southampton and Prospect, Devonshire increasing capacity by 25 per cent and 60 per cent respectively.

He said 10,000ft of high density polyethylene pipe has been installed so far this year on Harrington Sound Road and a further 20,000ft will be installed by the end of the year when it will be extended to Flatts.

“Some of this is for future expansion, and some is to replace old pipe infrastructure that has passed its useful life and is a source of water losses,” he said.

Lieutenant Colonel Burch said the Tynes Bay seawater reverse osmosis plant is the primary source of government water supply for the central parishes and is operating at almost maximum capacity.

He said the Tudor Hill reverse osmosis facility has two water treatment units but is still down from its original four production unit capacity. There is a plan to increase production via the installation of Seawater plants in that location, he said.

He said there is a single RO plant supplying water under contract in St George’s but supply will be increased as part of the new water supply system in the East End.

“Until that time, the system will have to be managed very carefully to ensure consistent access to water for the local community,” he said.

He said a dual outlet bulk water trucker station will be installed and commissioned at Southside by March, 2022.

He added: “The primary threat to operations during a drought at anytime is suffering unpredictable mains breaks and water storage failures in a very old infrastructure. As such, we are working on a multi-year capital development programme to improve service levels to all customers over the next few years.

“There still is a need for all island residents to be conscious of their water usage this summer, regularly check their tanks and above all, conserve water.”

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Published July 04, 2021 at 6:47 pm (Updated July 04, 2021 at 6:47 pm)

Water plants cannot meet demand during dry spell

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