By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
CENTRAL Eleuthera businesses were late last week stunned that they came so close to losing their water supply for a second time before a last-minute resolution was found.
Christopher Cates, the Lumber Shed’s owner, told Tribune Business: “I think a responsible government should make absolutely certain that this is resolved and water supply remains on, considering that it is political season.”
He spoke out after Aqua Design, which has been locked in a long-running dispute with the Water & Sewerage Corporation, asserted in response to Tribune Business questions that the latter had not replied to the proposal it submitted for a new contract to continue operating its Central Eleuthera reverse osmosis plant beyond September 10.
Alleging that it is still owed a collective $1.6m by the Water & Sewerage Corporation across all plants it operates, Aqua Design said that in the absence of a response it was putting into effect the August 6, 2021, judgment from the Supreme Court that found it had properly terminated the Central Eleuthera water supply contract.
Justice Indra Charles ruled that the company, a subsidiary of SUEZ – Water Technologies & Solutions, was “entitled to terminate” its deal with the Water & Sewerage Corporation because the latter had failed to cure its persistent defaults in failing to pay for water it had provided.
She gave Aqua Design two months to “demobilise” its reverse osmosis plant, located at the former US naval base, and ordered that the Water & Sewerage Corporation abide by the terms of the two parties’ contract should it wish to purchase the reverse osmosis plant’s equipment, materials, chemicals and other infrastructure.
However, Justice Charles stayed “execution” of her judgment until 2.30pm on Friday, September 10, “to give them an opportunity to work out their differences”. This was achieved at the 11th hour, with Aqua Design finally receiving a new contract from the Water & Sewerage Corporation just hours before the “stay” expired.
Mr Cates adeded: “It’s very disappointing. Extremely disappointing. We should not find ourselves in this situation. I would have thought that by now our country, and our government and our agencies that work on behalf of the Bahamian people, would have their act together.”
Lachadra Godet, owner/ operator of Awesome Kitchen Supplies, said: “If they are disconnecting the water supply it would be really disheartening, because you can work without electricity but you can’t work without running water.
“Especially now with the COVID-19, where we need to keep clean and have everything sanitised, it is not a good thing at all. I don’t know what people are going to do. I guess they have to find a water source from somewhere. We have beauty salons and wash houses here. I hope they can come to some kind of agreement.”
Checks by this newspaper confirmed that the water supply remained on as at 3pm on Friday afternoon and Central Eleuthera residents had not experienced any disruption at that time.