By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Water & Sewerage Corporation says it has voiced “frustration” to its central Eleuthera water supplier over mechanical breakdowns that left some customers without service from Independence Day evening.
The state-owned water utility, in a statement, said it only has sufficient production to meet 55 percent of the area’s water demand following “a major mechanical failure” at the reverse osmosis plant located at the former US naval station.
While it is investing $2.756m in two water tanks, with the combined capacity to hold two million imperial gallons of water, the Water & Sewerage Corporation statement said this solution will “take several months” to construct and install.
With normal water supply not expected to resume until last night at earliest, the Corporation explained: “This failure has resulted in the loss of water production from one of the two desalination trains at the plant.
“Presently, customers are being supplied utilising the available storage and the water production from the remaining operational train. However, once the water storage is fully depleted, which we expect by [Sunday] evening, residents in Central Eleuthera, particularly those at higher elevations and those at the ends of the system will experience no water supply, and other residents will experience low water pressure as the remaining operational train water production is only approximately 55 percent of the system demand.”
Central Eleuthera, and the US naval base reverse osmosis plant, were at the centre of the controversy sparked last year under the former Minnis administration when its operator, Aqua Design, frequently threatened to cut-off supply over non-payment. This, though, does not appear to have been a factor this time.
The Water & Sewerage Corporation’s latest statement does not mention Aqua Design by name as it urged Eleuthera businesses and households to conserve as much water as possible through today. “The Corporation is also working closely with our desalination contractor who has plants at Waterford, Tarpum Bay, Naval Bay and Bogue, Eleuthera, to identify all major mechanical failure risk components and to ensure that critical spares are readily available on island and adequate redundancies are in place,” it added.
“The Corporation’s Board and management met with the desalination contractor as late as June 28, 2022, to express the frustrations of our customers and all stakeholders with these failures and to agree to a strategic plan for rigorous investments and major operational improvements at these plants.”
The Corporation continued: “The Corporation’s Board has mandated that critical water supply investments for Eleuthera move ahead urgently without delay, and the Corporation recently executed a contract for a new one million imperial gallon storage tank at our Naval Base pumping station and another one million imperial gallon storage tank at our Bogue Pumping Station at a total contract value of $2.756m.
“The Corporation has paid the initial deposits for both tanks and we are pressing the tank contractor to move as quickly as possible but these works will take several months to complete and commission. These tanks will increase the available water in storage that can be utilised to supply customers while major mechanical issues are addressed, thereby reducing the frequency of water supply interruptions.”