By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
A DELAY in shipping has stalled the reconstruction of the Grand Bahama Utility Company’s reverse osmosis plant.
In a press statement to the media, the Grand Bahama Utility Company (GBUC) said that last week they were advised of a delay in shipment of the vessel containing the filtration units vital to the operation of its new Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant.
The statement said: “Following extensive months of surveying, studies, design and engineering, construction of the $5m RO installation commenced in January 2021. GBUC, Bahamas Hot Mix (BHM) and other local partners worked together on the build, which is an integral part of the revitalized water infrastructure that will reliably serve customers across Grand Bahama for years to come.
Philcher Grant, director of operations at the GBUC, said: “Construction on the facility has progressed as scheduled. The GBUC team, along with BHM, our partner on the project, has worked diligently to complete the facility on time. We’re readying to enter the final phase of construction, and are now facing an unexpected delay in shipment of the filtration units which are critical – not only to the operations of the plant, but also to this last phase of testing and commissioning.”
Grand Bahamians and residents have experienced innumerable challenges to rebuild and recover since Hurricane Dorian ravaged the island in September 2019. Unprecedented damage was done to the utility, where in particular Wellfield 6, which serviced 60 percent of the island, suffered a catastrophic impact. The pumping station and wellfield were inundated with a 20-foot surge of seawater for over 18 hours.
This has had a long-term salinity impact on that fresh water aquifer, which for decades had been a high quality, abundant and reliable supply of pristine drinking water for the island.
As a result of the after effects of Hurricane Dorian on the water supply in Grand Bahama, the GBUC pledged a 25 percent discount to customers without potable water.
The statement continued, “GBUC was advised that the filtration units were loaded in error onto a cargo ship to Antwerp, Belgium. The transshipment company sincerely apologized for the erroneous service and assured the Utility that the cargo will need to be rerouted on arrival. We have been given an estimated arrival date of September 18, and we will continue to follow-up closely with the shipping company for further updates.
“GBUC apologizes to customers as a result of this unfortunate delay that is beyond its control. However, the Utility confirmed that the current 25 percent discount for customers without potable water will remain in place until the RO plant is fully commissioned, as will free water sites where potable water has not been restored.