‘No guarantees’ on Christmas water supply

There are no guarantees that there won’t be water outages over the holidays, said the Minister for the Water Authority today, who however gave an assurance that there will be every effort to minimise disruptions.

Minister of Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams told a news conference at his Country Road, St Michael office that the Water Authority has committed to refilling community water tanks every day to ensure customers will have access to water in case of outages.

And in a major difference in how the authority will be distributing water this time around compared to last year, desalinated water is to make its way to shortage-prone districts in the east, according to BWA General Manager Keithroy Halliday.

He said the BWA had enlisted the help of Ionics, which produces desalinated water, to boost supply, especially to parishes hard hit by recent outages.

“With the addition of Ionics, we were able to push an additional three million [gallons] into the distribution system that feeds to Shop Hill, pass the Apes [Hill] and get into… the St Joseph area.”

But the BWA’s biggest challenge remains its ageing water mains which could lead to burst pipes and service disruptions.

He said: “That is what will typically create outages for us. But if you speak to anyone in St John, St Joseph or St Andrew, they will be able to confirm that their water supply is a lot more consistent as a result of what has been done so far.”

Elsewhere, after months of enduring water outages and discoloured water, residents of St Lucy are expected to see improvements to their water supply.

According to Abrahams, the Hopewell plant is back in production and over the last two days, residents have been receiving better service.

The Minister said: “So the people in St Lucy would have noticed over the last two days that their water system returned to as close to normal as possible for months. They have water back in the pipes, the water is clear.”

He explained that the drought had resulted in a scarcity of groundwater and increased salinity in some wells supplying some St Lucy districts but assured measures have been implemented to prevent the problem from recurring.

Abrahams said: “We have also put a provision in place that if the salinity increases, the engineering adjustments that were made to the plant and that have been put in place should be able to allow the existing plant to be able to handle it by using a double-pass system to protect the integrity of the water.