Water woes in Antigua

ST. JOHN’S – Five out of six reservoirs in the central part of the island are empty – and the last is mere weeks away from suffering the same fate.

Despite recent heavy rain showers, APUA is warning residents that water rationing just might be on the horizon.

“Surface water reservoirs, especially in the middle part of the island, we are down to the last source,” acting Water Manager Ian Lewis said in an interview with OBSERVER Media.

“We have six reservoirs and five are empty and we are now on the last one in Dunning, located in Jennings.”

He added, “After Dunnings becomes empty in about five or six weeks, we’ll be out of surface water for that part of the island and we will be solely dependent on ground water.”

Although the last two days have brought rain showers, Lewis said that it is simply not enough.

“The rains that we have gotten don’t really affect the type of storage that we are talking about,” Lewis said. “We are talking about 50 to 100 million gallons, which means prolonged rain fall for a few days and I don’t think we have been seeing that for the last couple of months.”

The production engineer said that this would impact the island’s ability to produce water by 200,000 to 300,000 gallons per day. Each reservoir holds between 50 and 100 million gallons of water at capacity.

He noted that if the situation “gets any worse” surface water could be completely diminished in the central part of the island and at Pots Work Dam – which he says is currently 50 per cent empty.

“If it gets any worse, we’ll move from having a make-up of 30 per cent surface water to about zero per cent and when we get to that stage then we have to look at the possibility of rationing water, because desalinated would not be able to maintain that 100 per cent distribution,” the manager said.

The Fryes Beach reverse osmosis plant can supply up to 500,000 gallons of water per day; however, the Bendal’s area would need around 300,000 gallons per day to service the area. He added that supplying such a large amount of water would result in “high” costs for APUA.

To stave off such a situation, Lewis said, “conserve, conserve, conserve”.

APUA is asking residents to cut their consumption of water down, by taking five-minute baths, using less water to maintain lawns and to use recycled water for plants.

Although Director of the Met Office Keithley Meade said the forecast for the next three months is “somewhat below normal,” he would not go as far as to call this a drought – deeming it a “dry spell”.

He believes that “one deluge” could change the picture entirely for Antigua & Barbuda, as there are two months left in the hurricane season.

“If we don’t see enough of those showers, we run the risk of having a very dry, dry season and that, to me, is a concern,” he said. (Antigua Observer)

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