By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Caribbean Development Bank has approved a $28m loan to assist the government in improving water supply systems in communities in New Providence and the Family Islands, CDB officials said yesterday.
In a statement, CDB officials said $28.33m USD in financing has been approved to aid the government’s Water Supply Improvement Project, which officials said is consistent with CDB’s “corporate priorities to strengthen and modernise economic and social infrastructure” and promote “environmental sustainability.”
The loan includes an allocation of $12.4m USD in resources provided by the European Investment Bank to CDB under the Climate Action Line of Credit. The government will contribute $13.3m to the project, the statement said. The loan was approved on December 10, according to the statement.
“CDB is pleased to make this significant investment in the water sector in the Bahamas to give the people of New Providence and the Family Islands better access to a reliable, climate-resilient supply of safe, quality water,” said Daniel Best, director of projects at CDB. “This project will also help improve the long-term sustainability of the country’s water supply, which is needed for sustained economic growth.”
According to the statement, the Water Supply Project will undertake a range of activities, including acquiring approximately 30 acres of land for sitting water production facilities; upgrading supply and distribution systems by replacing existing mains and installing new mains and ancillary equipment; constructing storage tanks and pump stations, and providing a tanker truck for transporting water by road in San Salvador.
The project will also include technical assistance to support the government’s efforts to avoid, adapt to and mitigate the negative impacts of climate variability and climate change on water, the statement said.
“We are particularly grateful for the assistance within the Family Islands,” said Christine Thompson, CDB’s alternate director for the Bahamas. “CDB is acutely cognisant of the problem we face in duplicating resources in sparsely populated islands which can be prohibitively expensive.”
According to officials, several communities across the Bahamas, particularly within the Family Islands, rely on private wells, tanker trucks and rainwater harvesting to meet most of their domestic needs. Others depend on bottled water for cooking and drinking.
However, officials said the situation is “compounded” by “deteriorating” water supply mains on the Family Islands, primarily due to “age, inadequate depth of placement,” and the use of inappropriate materials. As such, the statement said a high level of “non-revenue water” – water lost through leaks or that is not billed to customers – occurs across the Family Islands.
Last Thursday, scores of residents in New Providence suffered a loss of water supply and low pressure after a major failure of the Water and Sewerage Corporation’s water transmission main on Robertha Avenue.
Residents of northern, central, southern and eastern New Providence were affected.