Communities affected by water challenges

The Cocody Dam Petite Etang, St. David

The Cocody Dam Petite Etang, St. David

Communities receiving their water supply from the Cocody and Les Avocat dams in the parish of St. David’s are once again experiencing an intermittent supply as the nation’s lone water utility company, the National Water and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA) is severely challenged in providing customers with an adequate supply due to a lack of rainfall in the areas servicing the dams.

This problem is not a new one for NAWASA, which has been recording low levels of water supply during the dry season in recent years.

The water shortage woos occurs almost every dry season, which usually runs from December 1 to June 30 each year.

However, this year Grenada started to experience severe dry conditions in April, which according to the Meteorological Office at Point Salines, was the month that recorded the fourth lowest rainfall (95.9mm) in 30 years.

 Les Avocat Dam, Minorca, St. David

Les Avocat Dam, Minorca, St. David

Despite this, NAWASA’s Assistant Manager in the Production and Quality Department, Alison Neptune asserted that the amount of water available this year is greater compared to years gone by.

“We have had more water available this year compared to last year,” Neptune told members of the media who recently visited the two dams to get a first hand view of the present situation facing the water utility company.

“I have seen it worst,” he added.

When questioned what could be done to curb the problem, the NAWASA official spoke of some options that can be explored but could not be ventured into due to a lack of finance.

“Of course, from an engineering point of view, I could tell you that we could either create a dam on the great river and pipe that water – probably two or three miles over the hills and drop it over here, but I can also tell you that we could build a couple of desalination plants on the east coast,” he said.

However, he added quickly that “these options are very, very expensive” and “we also have to bear in mind that we have to kind of balance what is feasible engineering wise and what the customers could afford to pay for it.”

According to Neptune, NAWASA would need huge financing to engage in the required projects to improve the island’s water stock but due to concerns with operational cost, “we chose the cheaper option of having to ask people to conserve or doing valve regulations. ”

Neptune disclosed that the Les Avocat treatment facility is currently producing approximately 350, 000 gallons of water but  “during the rainy season we have a lot more going out.”

He said up until March, the dam which services the Minorca, Morne Delice, Mt. Airy, Marian, La Borie and St. Paul’s communities was overflowing with water but the advent of the dry season has tremendously affected the amount of water now going into the facility.

Meanwhile, the Cocody damn, which services the Petite Etang plant has three sources but is operating at “very low” productivity at the moment.

“We are saying that our demand (for water) is increasing more than we are producing especially now we are looking at twice, three times what we are producing…so if we were to keep going like that for another month it would be significantly risky…”, Neptune said.

NAWASA is urging consumers to practice proper water conservation measures.

Last year Cocody and Les Avocat were two of four of the Authority’s water systems that had to be valve regulated having recorded more than 60% decline in production.

At one point Les Avocat registered a production decline from 400,000 gallons to 200,000 gallons per day, while Cocody, which produces approximately 250,000 gallons of water per day did not exceed 150, 000 per day during the month of April 2014.

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