(Antigua Observer) The Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) has unveiled short, medium and long-term plans to tackle the nation’s devastating water crisis.
A team from the statutory body met with cabinet on Wednesday to discuss the cost that would be incurred to increase potable water output at the several reverse osmosis plants across
Antigua and for the re-piping of St. John’s and other areas.
Two weeks ago, APUA was asked to consider having a short, medium, and long-term plan to combat the six-year drought that has resulted in the depletion of fresh-water wells, the exhaustion of all surface water, and wholesale dependence on the authority to provide potable water via its reverse osmosis plants.
According to the Cabinet notes, “APUA team presented a document listing the cost of purchasing 2,150 new membranes, to replace many of the membranes that have been used for five or more years at the existing reverse osmosis plants; the replacements will cost US $960,000.”
In addition, the document outlined two short term fixes for the water issue. These included the purchase of new membranes for the reverse osmosis plants and the replacement of a 20” water delivery line on the perimeter of the Crabbes plant, at a cost of US $20,000.
The notes specified that productivity of a reverse osmosis plant increases drastically when the membranes are new. The notes said that material such as seaweed, sand and gravel get sucked up into the intake pipe and cause the membranes to become clogged and worn and therefore efficiency is diminished. The role of the membrane is to separate the salt from the seawater.
APUA also offered three medium-term plans which called for the upgrade of a 14-inch transmission line from Factory Road to Buckley line at the cost of US $100,000, new high-density polyethylene pipes will also replace the old cast iron pipes from Newgate Street to Dickenson Bay Street in Point, costing US $570,000 and the re-piping of Michael’s Village and Ovals at an additional cost of US$ 100,000.
A medium to long-term plan called for the construction of a 500,000-gallon-daily output reverse osmosis plant, to be placed in the Fort James area costing US $1.5 million. This plant would ensure the provision of potable water to the residential communities around the city, to the business centre of St. John’s, and would guarantee the supply of potable water to cruise and cargo vessels within the ports of St. John’s.
Finally, the report proposed the long-term plan to have a two-million-gallon reverse osmosis plant added to APUA’s stock of plants. This endeavour is expected to cost US $3.5 million. It is said that this plant would likely increase the supply of clean water from eight million to 10 million gallons daily.
Water supply has been a hot topic in Antigua for quite some time now as the country experiences prolonged drought conditions. APUA has been under pressure from the public to provide a consistent supply of water. The authority has blamed the lack of water on drought conditions, the increase of sargassum seaweed around the island, broken pipes and the hoarding of water by some consumers.