“WHEELS ARE ROLLING TO RELIEVE MASS WATER RATIONING”
After much delay and discussion, the Anguilla Water Corporation and Caribbean Water Treatment Limited of Antigua have agreed to move ahead with a signed contract for the supply of desalinated water throughout Anguilla, thus relieving the mass rationing.
The agreement was reached several days ago in Antigua when Mr. Christopher Richardson, the newly-appointed Chairman of the Water Board, held talks with Mr. Mario Bento, CEO of Caribbean Water Treatment Limited.
The original contract was signed on January 30 this year in Anguilla. However, when the new Anguilla United Front Government came into office, one of the concerns was the noise level that the plant at Crocus Bay would emit to the annoyance of residents in the area. Most, if not all, of the concerns have now been resolved and the Ministry of Finance reportedly issued a Business Licence to the water supplier, on Tuesday this week, to enable him to move forward with the project.
The Anguillian sought and obtained the relevant updated information from Mr. Christopher Richardson, on Monday this week, about the agreement for the twin desalination plants for the island. “We have agreed to continue the contract with Caribbean Water Treatment out of Antigua after much discussion,” he told the newspaper. “I actually met with the Managing Director, Mr. Mario Bento, there, and resolved most of the matters that would have withheld the issuance of the Business Licence which was critical for him to function on Anguilla. The Ministry of Finance has finally agreed to grant the permit based on the fact that he is able to look at the noise level. We have been able to pin down the noise level to between 45 and 55 decibels and have therefore agreed to move ahead with the contract.
“The wheels are in motion right now. The two engines to run the plants have been designed already and also manufactured. They are sitting in Texas and should be shipped shortly. There are also parts in Trinidad. Those as well should be shipped shortly and also there is a piece in Malaysia to be shipped shortly too. So we have reached agreement where we could start the shipping. I think that the arrangement we have is a good one. We want to bring everybody back to the trough – persons who have been sceptical about the Water Board and what it can deliver. I think that we are on a good path.”
The original water desalination building at Crocus Bay is currently empty since the removal of equipment last year by General Electric. The new plans are to continue to use the same structure for the new equipment, but there is a need to lay blocks inside the building to assist in reducing the noise significantly.
Mr. Richardson could not give a firm commitment about when the desalinated water would actually be available, but stated: “The contract was signed on the 30th of January 2015. It provides that, 180 days thereafter, following certain criteria, that the first drop of water would reach the tank at Crocus Hill, controlled by the Water Corporation. We have just decided, a few days ago, that we are ready to roll and, as a matter of fact, the Business License will be issued by tomorrow morning (Tuesday), and Mr. Bento will be in Anguilla later down in the week setting the stage for the arrival of the equipment.” He said that he, and Mr. Bento, had agreed not to wait for the 180 days and that Bento himself was willing to push the time forward for the provision of water to a much shorter time.
The Chairman of the Water Board also pointed to urgent arrangements by the Water Corporation to replace ten pumps in The Valley Well field that went bad following Hurricane Gonzalo in October last year. The situation affected the pumping and supply of brackish water from the wells. “That has accounted for the mass rationing, and I agree that it is unacceptable because it is almost a year that Gonzalo has passed and we should have repaired the pumps long ago,” he stressed. “As we speak, those pumps have been ordered from Mexico and monies will be sent there shortly. We are working to see how we can even airlift some of these pumps to Anguilla, quickly, as their use would reduce a lot of the water rationing. Once the reverse osmosis plants are here…plus the brackish water, we will be on a good path to avoiding any form of rationing.”
In a related matter, Mr. Richardson said that he and Mr. Bento had discussed a design that would reduce the cost of electricity for the plants. He noted that when General Electric was the water provider, not only was the water bill high but there was also high energy cost. “There is a component in the machinery to convert some of the brine to propel the plants, so we would not acquire as much electricity as previously. As we go along, we also hope that we would be able to run the plants on solar as there is a component if, down the road, you could if you wanted. So that is another area we are looking at and Mr. Bento is very amenable to that arrangement.”
Meanwhile, there is running water in one area of Anguilla – West End, thanks to an agreement with the neighbouring CuisinArt Golf Resort and Spa. Under the agreement, the resort is supplying running water to the village at an agreed price until the island-wide system is restored.
Commenting on this matter, Mr. Curtis Richardson, Minister of Infrastructure, said: “When we came to office the rationing of water was deplorable. People were getting water every two weeks – sometimes once a week. I felt that utilising the CuisinArt solution for the western end of the island would ease up the Water Corporation from having to ration water all the way to West End. So we put into effect the CuisinArt water into the pipeline mainly for West End and Long Bay, and that’s why people there are getting water more than once a week, or once every two weeks.
“But the solution that we are really pursuing is to get the water plant here so that we can bring up the water level in the tank, and remove rationing all together so that people, all across Anguilla, can have water twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.”
The Minister added: “The previous Board of the Water Corporation had made a contract with a gentleman [Mr. Brento] for a water plant. There were some issues that we had when we came to office, relative to the level of noise. As you know, when the water plant went in originally at Crocus Bay, some of the residents there had a lot of issues with the noise level, and we were not satisfied that it would not create issues for the residents in the area. We therefore had a number of questions, but mainly the noise was the issue. Now that he has indicated that he can get the noise reduced to international standards, we have decided to issue a Business Licence to him. The water plant should be moving to the island in a relatively short time.”
Mr. Cardigan Connor, the Elected Representative for West End, had this to say: “I am very grateful to CuisinArt for being able to offer the water hopefully at a [good] price, to the people at West End as we rely so heavily on water falling from the sky and having had a drought for such a long period of time. Thanks to Curtis, as well, for putting the case forward and again to the management of CuisinArt.”