By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
GRAND Bahama water potability has reached 34 percent towards full island restoration, according to the Grand Bahama Utility Company Ltd.
In an update released on Friday, the company also reported that it has engaged the services of a Florida firm to test the water of all its wellfields to assess its quality.
This comes some five months after Hurricane Dorian devastated the island in early September, and compromised the island’s freshwater supply when a surge of seawater flooded the island’s well fields, resulting in salty tap water.
Geron Turnquest, general manager of GBUC, said they have engaged Florida-Spectrum Environmental Services, Inc., a certified full-service testing laboratory, that will collect water samples from all Wellfields to test for water potability.
He said the laboratory will conduct a full spectrum of tests to assess the chemical and biological analyses of the water.
According to the company, “steady progress” is being made towards restoring and improving water quality on the island.
The GBUC began the process of chlorinating the water to ensure that it is free of bacteria and other contaminants.
“Although salinity levels were 9000 ppm immediately post Hurricane Dorian, due to focused efforts the current levels are 2500 ppm, showing steady progress toward meeting World Health Organization standards,” the company reported in a statement.
Remington Wilchcombe, Engineering Manager of GBUC, said the team continues to labour in the wellfields to install new potable wells, while simultaneously conducting intentional flushing and restoring existing wells into the system.
“As a result of this effort, residents across the city of Freeport are being provided with fresher water.”
In its long term plan for sustainable utility, Mr. Turnquest said the Utility Company is taking “the hard lessons learned from Hurricane Dorian and incorporating resiliency improvements.”
“This includes the strategic placement of new freshwater wells in areas that proved to be more resistant to salt intrusion and flood surge impact and the elevation of our pumps. Additionally, we have made capital investments in technology for automation of our pumps and systems,” he added.
The company, he stated, is also evaluating the best business case for a scalable Reverse Osmosis Plant, and has improved its hurricane contingency planning.
Philcher Grant, director of Group Corporate Affairs at GB Port Authority, said these resiliency improvements are underway and are ongoing as part of their long-term strategy.
“Hurricane Dorian had a catastrophic impact to both the private and commercial sectors alike. We understand the frustration of our residents, and the team at GBUC has been working diligently, with executive leadership, on developing and executing this plan. We thank the public for their continued patience as the GBUC team works to restore the best quality water to our island at an affordable price,” she said.
During an initial update in January, Grant had estimated complete water potability by May.