APUA grapples with worst drought in 80 years

Antigua’s main surface water catchment, Potworks Dam, is completely depleted as a result of drought conditions. (Photo courtesy APUA)
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By Shermain Bique-Charles

[email protected]

The Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) has painted a gloomy picture of the water situation in Antigua and Barbuda as it struggles to effectively meet demand.

The company said yesterday that it has been forced to implement a stricter water conservation schedule due to an 11 percent drop in water treatment from natural catchments in recent months.

This latest method, to take effect this weekend, is APUA’s way of tackling what it has described as the worst drought in 80 years.

The utilities company held a press conference on Friday to address the situation, saying that the adjustments must be made to ensure residents are provided with the essential commodity.

Reduced rainfall, Covid-19 and the increased water usage have compounded the current situation, according to APUA’s production engineer, Tesfa Francis, who addressed reporters at the virtual conference.

Under normal conditions, APUA distributes water produced by three sources; 60 percent from reverse osmosis; 30 percent from surface water treatment plants; and 10 percent from ground water.

However, in late March, the Deluxe Water Treatment Plant ended its operations because reservoirs dried up.

“That had us at a deficit of 700,000 gallons a day. The Bendals Water Treatment Plant is being fed from its final source, and if these drought conditions continue, then the ground water will also be affected,” Francis said.

According to the engineer, the daily production of water now stands at 6.4 million gallons compared to the previous 7.4 million gallons daily.

In the meantime, the company’s superintendent with responsibility for maintenance and distribution, Wayne Martin, said the new conservation schedule is designed to allow for a fair rotation cycle enabling residents to plan and consume water accordingly.

It also helps service customers living in high elevations, which are among the most problematic areas.

Customers can access copies of the schedule in local newspapers this weekend and early next week, on social media, on APUA’s website at www.apua.ag and by calling the company’s information centre on 211.

APUA also reminded customers of the importance of practicing conservation and water recycling measures in homes and businesses in order to prolong a limited but vital resource.

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