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New reservoir to give island 3m gallon back-up supply of water

Bermuda Waterworks: reverse osmosis plant supervisor Daniel Dill, left, and operations engineer Kaliffe Pierre change filters at the company’s North Shore water plant (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A multimillion-gallon reservoir designed to boost the island’s water reserves is expected to be open by the end of the year.

Allan Rance, the chief executive of Bermuda Waterworks, said the reservoir would boost efficiency by allowing the company’s reverse osmosis equipment — which turns seawater into drinking water — to keep going uninterrupted.

He explained: “Reverse osmosis plants like to be running — they don’t like to be turned on and off frequently.

“This will enable us to operate the plants with longer running times.”

Work on the reservoir, at Luke’s Pond in Southampton, started last year.

About 70 per cent of the company’s water supply is processed from brackish underground water, with the remainder taken from seawater.

But Colonel Rance said water supply in Bermuda was a constant balancing act.

He added: “Demand for water goes up and down depending on the rainfall, and we find ourselves turning the salt-water desalination plants on and off quite frequently, which is not ideal.

“Having a three-million-gallon reservoir is a very good hedge when we have a drought.

“We’ve designed our system so we can pump water to the west into the reservoir, or we can pump from the reservoir back to the central parts of the island, which will be very versatile.”

Colonel Rance said the reservoir plant could be upgraded in the future to produce water through desalination.

But he added: “It’s not part of our current project.

Colonel Rance said: “One of the effects of Covid-19 has been the demand for water has dropped quite dramatically, so there is no need to do it at this point in time.

“But we anticipate having that in the future as a satellite location for salt-water desalting.”

He added staff were being trained in reverse osmosis plants, which he said were “the way of the future”.

Colonel Rance said: “We want our staff here to be extremely competent at not only operating reverse osmosis plants but understanding the background from the science through to the plant design.

“We pride ourselves on the fact that we have the talent to do all of this on the island.”

The reservoir will add three million gallons of storage capacity — more than double the company’s water reserve at present.

Operations engineer Kaliffe Pierre got hands-on training last year at Harn Reverse Osmosis Systems in Venice, Florida.

Plant supervisor Daniel Dill and operator Kyrie Easton are going through certification by DHP training and consultants, also US-based.

The company creates drinking water by removing salt and impurities from the brackish water piped from underneath Devonshire Marsh from seawater at the reverse osmosis plant on North Shore, Devonshire.

Fresh water is created under high pressure across a partially permeable membrane.

Mr Pierre said the company was “investing in the future of our staff by getting them certified and making them experts in their field”.

He added that the two staff getting certification through DHP would end up “in the top 1 per cent of reverse osmosis operators worldwide”.

Mr Pierre said his training in Florida covered the science of water purification and the certification programme was “more hands-on”.

A total of four people out of the company’s 40 staff are usually assigned to the water plants.

Mr Pierre said mistakes could lead to serious damage because of the high pressure involved in reverse osmosis.

He added that improvements to the design of reverse osmosis plants would yield significant energy savings.

Mr Pierre said: “Due to the high cost of energy, you don’t want to have any waste. It’s critical that all our systems are running as efficiently as possible.”

The company, which has about 3,000 customers, has teamed up with Belco to carry out extensive trench digs to increase its supply network.

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Published February 03, 2022 at 7:54 am (Updated February 03, 2022 at 7:54 am)

New reservoir to give island 3m gallon back-up supply of water

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