Public Utilities Minister Melford Nicholas is assuring residents that in short order, water productivity levels in Antigua and Barbuda will increase significantly, curbing the woes that have caused a great upset among the population in recent times
Nicholas told reporters at Thursday’s weekly press briefing that plans have been put in place to move potable water production from 7 million gallons to 9 million gallons daily.
He said the aim is to ensure that water is available to meet the growing demands around the carnival season.
“We are projecting to see that figure get as close as possible to 8 million gallons this month. It is a level of commitment of the [APUA] staff and of course, the improvement in the resources that are being made available to the water division. Residents who reside abroad will come home for Carnival and to visit friends and family and the demand for water will be greater.” he said
The government is currently negotiating with two private water providers, to add another 1.5 million gallons of water to the grid
“The second of the two private water operators will be providing a boat operations facility at Barnacle Point, where we would expect over the next 120 days to move towards implementing that facility. We will have an additional 1 million gallons of water in that particular area. There is an existing plant of a private water operator in the Crabbs area and we are asking them to go up to throttle and to increase their capacity from 600,000 gallons per day, which they are not currently producing, but to ask them to go beyond their current levels of production up to 1 million gallons of water per day,” Nicholas added
He said if plans materialize, it would make available approximately another 1.5 million imperial gallons of water per day.
Meanwhile, Nicholas said the second plant at Fort James will come on stream by the end of June and will produce a further half a million gallons with the increase in the management and the operational efficiencies of the water division.
“I would expect that we will get as close as possible to 9.5 million gallons of water by the end of the summer. Already I have seen and I’m getting feedback from several areas that the water supply and the frequency of water supply have indeed been improving…” he said
Later this month, a team from APUA will travel to Cuba for the signing of an agreement to bring on board three additional engineers to assist with managing the hydraulic system for water distribution on the island.
“We are going to be expanding the fleet of persons who are going to be looking at the frequency of the repairs. This is a feature of the whole water infrastructure network that we have in the ground. We know it’s a matter of concern for the public where persons cannot get water but on occasions and frequent occasions …
He said the government will also be buying into an app used in Trinidad and Tobago, to help solve its water issues.
“And [Trinidad] has agreed to make that resource available to us here in Antigua. So these are areas that we are working on and of course the planned expansion of the water production facilities at Bethesda. We are at this stage awaiting the final approval from the Development Control Authority. And as soon as that has been granted, I will avail myself of the services of the Public Works Department to allow us to begin to put the road infrastructure in place” Nicholas said
Adding, “We will commence the construction of the plant immediately after a significant portion of the plant is already an island and it’s been stored at the water treatment facility. But the electronics, the panel, and all of the other electronics are still to be procured. And I would expect that by the end of this month, I’ll be in a position to equip the utilities with the required resource funding for them to be able to do that with best endeavors”
He said however that it’s unlikely that this plant will be fully operational before the end of the year.
“I want to assure the Antiguan public that everything that is being done at the water division is designed to ensure that we can avail every member of the public, whether it is a private household or a business or whatever institution requires Water can have an adequate supply of water by year’s end.
“And so that is the aim and objective of the water division. I continue to invest a significant portion of my time to look at this particularly important issue for the country’s development” Nicholas added