Mr. Cade Adrian Darling Sr., new Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) Manager on Eleuthera arrived in September to take up the helm, but was no stranger to the island and the many challenges he would be tasked with facing. With more than 35 years of experience at WSC having allowed him to work with all aspects of water supply, storage and distribution, Mr. Darling communicated his confidence that he could make a difference in Eleuthera. “I did assessments in this area four years ago… We knew what was needed since then, but these things take time and money. Now, while I am here, I hope I can get things done even more quickly, because I am on the ground – and not back and forth,” he shared. His optimistic outlook is by the end of 2018, to have all of the major water challenges dealt with on the island in all areas including supply, storage, as well as distribution, with major infrastructure upgrades and rehabilitation continuing into 2018.
South Eleuthera, commented Mr. Darling, has gone through major upgrades in recent years and is said to be in good shape, “We did South Eleuthera, starting in Deep Creek – so between Deep Creek and Tarpum Bay now there are no water issues, because we did systems rehabilitation, and the pipework is now basically new, pvc. The main problem that faced areas in South Eleuthera were leaks along the main service line roads that supplied each home, we had to change all of those. There were a few other main leaks, but once we fixed that South has had no major water issues.”
North Eleuthera, he shared, has come to end of its’ well fields useful life, with salty, brackish water being endured by clients currently. GE Water & Process Technologies, announced in June of this year their plans to build, own and operate (BOO) a new seawater reverse osmosis desalination (SWRO) plant in North Eleuthera, on a 15 year contract with the Water and Sewerage Corporation, to help improve water quality and reliability of potable water in that area. The new plant, which is intended to serve approximately 7,500 residents, will have the capacity to produce 600,000 imperial gallons per day of clean drinking water, said GE.
This new facility will be GE’s fourth BOO desalination plant on the island (facilities now exist on Current Island, in Governor’s Harbour and in Deep Creek), and the new plant is expected to begin commercial operation during the first quarter of 2018. Site works said Mr. Darling, began during the first week in December, further stating, “We need to get that done. We are happy that it’s now been awarded. It will service the North Eleuthera communities, including Upper and Lower Bogues, The Bluff, Harbour Island, as well as Spanish Wells.” North Eleuthera which currently is not a part of WSC’s automated supply monitoring system, will also come on line with systems already set up from Gregory Town to Deep Creek, said Mr. Darling. Russell Island is also set to receive upgrades in their water distribution infrastructure during the upcoming year, as part of a Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) loan project.
Central Eleuthera is where Mr. Darling sees his main challenge during the next year, and the scope of works necessary to stabilize the area. He commented that if everything goes as planned, the goals for stabilizing the water service in Central Eleuthera could be achieved in the next eight to ten months.
Production is the first issue he said, “the RO Plant located at the former Naval Base site is a challenge because of frequently going down – age also, so consistency in supply is a challenge… They (GE) build, own, operate and we purchase the water… We are dependent on them – we have no well fields – so that’s the greatest challenge – the RO plant’s consistency. He said that plans are to negotiate terms to upgrade and rehabilitate the RO plant, so that it could provide consistent, sustainable production.
Storage is the second major issue, explained Mr. Darling, with only one of the three – storage tanks at the Governor’s Harbour RO plant operational. “We currently have one usable tank with 250,000 gallons storage capacity. We will try to rehabilitate all three, looking at the middle of next year. We are proposing to put ‘bladders’ in them, which would increase storage capacity,” he said.
“We have put in new distribution pumps inside our pump house also, which were installed during the last week in November, and BPL has fixed their cells which were coming in at low voltage by putting in new transformers – so the new pumps are in action. Now we need water to pump to the people,” Mr. Darling quipped.
Distribution infrastructure is a third major challenge in Central Eleuthera, with areas that still have water being sent through old galvanized and asbestos pipes. To address this, Mr. Darling shared, “We have a CDB loan to assist with distribution infrastructure upgrades, which is set to cover the change out of pipes along the Banks Road – 11,000 feet of it is set to be changed, as well as pipe from the area heading north of the former Naval Base, where we still have continuous leaks. We’ve already changed all of the air valves, some 55 or them, and installed some additional ones as well, with 60 plus now in the system, that will allow it to perform well. We’ve completed Savannah Sound, so that’s now tight, so we are making in-roads. Distribution system rehabilitation is also now ongoing in Gregory Town.”
As a result of recent works still ongoing by WSC, many roads have been impacted. Mr. Darling commented that the contract for road repairs has now been awarded, with the contractor set to begin road repairs early in December.