By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
RAGGED Island residents will have to wait another 90 days before water supply on the island is back to normal, Water and Sewerage Corporation Assistant General Manager of Family Island Operations Cyprian Gibson told The Tribune yesterday.
About two and half months since Hurricane Irma decimated the island, Ellery Lockhart, a spokesperson for a group of descendants who have banded together to get the island back to normal, claimed the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) is only generating eight gallons of water per hour every day. This he said, is “totally inadequate” to meet the needs of the island.
However, Mr Gibson said WSC is producing far more water – 700 gallons each day – which, he said, is only to meet critical needs.
The dilemma, he explained, lies in the fact that the water provider’s plant was completely destroyed by Irma and a temporary plant was put in while a new permanent facility is being completed. He said there are also plans to upgrade the plant for increased resiliency.
“Water is still a challenge down here,” Mr Lockhart said. “It’s a serious challenge and the water manufacturing company is still only producing eight gallons of water an hour, which is totally inadequate.
“Bahamas Power and Light has gotten their power generation and distribution system up to the point where they have connected houses to the grid and these are the houses that are in compliance with Ministry of Works code. Those that are not up to code are not connected.
“The clean-up of the island is approximately 90 per cent complete. There are small pockets of debris and the residents, as I speak to you, are in the community picking up small pieces and making piles to be disposed of at the city dump but they are still waiting for the government to say and do what they are supposed to do.
“But there is still a desperate need for houses to be prepared. Other than that, we are still doing the best to persevere,” Mr Lockhart said.
He was referring to plans for Ragged Island as outlined by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis in the House of Assembly back in September. At the time Dr Minnis announced his administration’s intention to “transform” Ragged Island into the first fully “green” island in the region.
The prime minister also explained that renewable energy and smart technology from solar energy and sustainable water purification systems would be utilised for this effort with the help of residents and descendants of the island.
Minister of Works Desmond Bannister was unable to discuss the restoration on the island yesterday, saying he would have to produce a report at a later date.
“We know that the prime minister’s planning committee met on Monday and he is challenging them to get to a point where they can put a timeline on the plan,” Mr Lockhart said.
Hurricane Irma’s destruction of the island prompted Dr Minnis to declare the island unlivable in early September as he urged those remaining there to evacuate following the storm because of major health and safety concerns.
Rotting animal carcasses and the destruction of all essential services led Dr Minnis to strongly urge those still on Ragged Island to leave until the small community can be restored.
Despite this, residents of the island at the time said they were determined to go back home immediately and rebuild despite the decimation left by Irma.