Engineers drilling test wells at Paraquita Bay
Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News
Government is preparing to make capital investments to boost water supply in the Territory as they continue to work with Biwater, who is awaiting approval to seek a direct water intake from the sea to feed its plant at Paraquita Bay.
In a statement in the House of Assembly yesterday, June 29, Minister for Communications and Works, Hon. Mark Vanterpool said that the expectation in the short term is to increase water supply through the BiWater contract arrangement; however, Government expects some delays for the delivery of water due to a change in expectation for the source of water by BiWater.
"We are working with BiWater as they go through the planning requirements process to obtain that alternate source. In addition to the supply of water that is expected, the Ministry has to make some major capital investments in support of the Water and Sewerage Department's efforts, which would enable a more reliable distribution of water once it becomes available," Minister Vanterpool stated.
The Minister announced immediate, but necessary measures which include pumping additional water from the Hodge's Creek reservoir to supply customers from Paraquita Bay to Fish Bay and the construction of a water pump station in the Cox Heath area.
"This action [pump station] will supplement the water supply to our residents on the western end, including Towers, Frenchman's Cay and Steel Point. We are projecting that this alternative source of water will be fully operational within two to three weeks," Minister Vanterpool stated.
He noted that actions have also been taken for Virgin Gorda counterparts and therefore, residents should see improvements within two weeks or sooner to their supply of water.
Minister Vanterpool noted that the Water and Sewerage Department has already developed a very comprehensive plan to address the major deficiencies in the overall system.
He added that some of the proposed solutions are of "a costly nature", given the fact that the supply system has deteriorated over a number of years. Minister Vanterpool said that it is therefore necessary to use a phased approach to implement certain necessary upgrades.
Other actions to be taken include the replacement of existing 4" pipes with 6" pipes in some of the affected areas, collaborating with water suppliers on ways in which the current production levels could be increased, refurbishment of some existing reservoirs such as the Capoon's Bay facility and the Old Zion Hill reservoir, interconnecting water supply from Harrigan Estate to MacNamara residents and introducing more pressure reducing valves, air valves and strainers to better increase the efficiency of the water system.
The Minister noted that the majority of residents, including the eastern end of Tortola, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke have been enjoying an improved water supply for the past several months. However, with the dry season affecting the BVI, the Minister said that there has been a sharp increase in the demand for public water supply.
He added that the drastic shift in water usage in recent months has stretched resources and as a result of this situation, he has received an increased number of complaints from several residents and business owners that have been affected by the intermittent supply of potable water.
"I acknowledge the gravity of this problem, particularly in areas of the Territory where it is more acute such as the Valley, Virgin Gorda; West End, MacNamara and in some higher elevations such as the Ridge Road, which causes obvious inconveniences.
"In addition to issues related to increased demand for water during the summer months, there are other challenges that impact our water supply that must be addressed in the short to medium term such as breakage of pipes which causes leaks to occur, lack of storage capacity at some of our reservoirs, the need to refurbish or even build new reservoirs, especially on the western end of the island, production levels of some of our water plants and the need to increase the size of our distribution pipes," Minister Vanterpool stated.