An EC$ 10 million project, which seeks to provide for the construction of a new water treatment plant at Concord, St. John, and increased water supply to the southern and eastern parts of the island, is currently before the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for approval.
According to General Manager of the state-controlled National Water and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA), Christopher Husbands, this project is geared at capitalising on the output of the Concord river, which has a very “robust resource” year round, producing an output of “400, 000 gallon of waters daily (and) supplies customers from Concord into the Town of St George.”
Husbands told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that the project, would increase the Concord catchment output from 400, 000 to 1.2 million gallons (of water) a day, and is considered as a priority for the Authority to channel more water to the south of the island, regarded as the tourism belt and which gets most of its water from the Annandale water system.
“So we are now going to bring a new source of water supply into the south and we are now going to have available capacity there that will allow us to take (the) Annandale resource and head east in areas like Calivigny, Marian, Fort Judy et cetera”, he said.
“So we are going to be laying new lines from the Town all the way down to the south of the island, Point Saline…this means we have to lay new lines …”, he added.
Husbands pointed out that while the western side of the island continues to have more robust water systems, that is not the case along the eastern side of the country, which has been the most affected during the dry season, since the passage of hurricanes Ivan and Emily in 2004 and 2005, respectively.
“We have noticed that the resources (on the eastern side) have been dropping and they have been dropping faster, specifically in the parish of St. David’s and parts of St. Andrew’s,” Husbands said, adding that these areas would be given priority as a result.
“St. Mark’s has an abundance of water but the least demand”, he said.
He acknowledged that the demand for water is predominantly more in the south of the island “where very few rivers exist.”
He said, while “there is water available in St. Mark’s that could supply the south with no problem (but there is) “always the challenge in getting water from other sources in an economic way to the south, (which will) “include multi-stage pumping, if you think of all the different hills that we have (which) makes it economically challenging.”
Husbands said, “While we (NAWASA) have the hydraulics, we don’t have the conveyance mechanism to get the water there.”
He expressed hope that “by the fourth quarter this year we will be able to start some work” on the project which was submitted to the CDB for consideration earlier this year.
The NAWASA General Manager also spoke of plans to change the universal meters currently being used nationwide to “smart meters” geared at improving customer service and efficiency.
“We have a proposal to change all our meters,” Husbands said, noting that although we are universally metered island wide, our meters are older technology.
“There are better, more effective technologies with newer meters that are better suited for our conditions. We (are) now using what is called volumetric meters, where the water is measured by the moving parts (which) overtime develop friction, slows down and become under registered (thereby) contributes to significant losses.”
“We will change to using electromagnetic meters (also called smart meters) with no moving parts, which will eliminate the issue of having blocked meters, reduce water loss and improve efficiency…”, he said.
The water meter proposal falls under the US$30 million portfolios of projects submitted to the Green Climate Change Fund (GCF) for approval with assistance from the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).
According to Husbands, these water sector projects are geared at “strengthening water resource management, (which will be done) in conjunction with the Ministry of Agriculture, ensuring that we have equity, security and (that) persons are not polluting the resources (et cetera) and will address problems nationwide in terms of water storage, line replacement to replace old pipelines.”
Additionally, he said “there is a component to improve our public communication, review financial stability, among others, as well as looking at ways to really improve the entire water sector.”
Husbands disclosed that the US$30 million portfolio is expected to be “tabled at the upcoming GCF meeting this June.
“We are hopeful that we do get some acceptance and we are looking at last quarter this year, first quarter next year to start implementation,” he said.