By Makeida Antonio
Disgruntled residents have been assured that there will be fewer dry pipelines leading to their homes and businesses in 2022.
For many years, inadequate water distribution has been the source of outrage across Antigua and Barbuda with several administrations pointing fingers at each other as the reason why the longstanding issue has not been resolved.
According to Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) Communications Officer Anazette Reynolds, planned outages in the latest water schedule update are due to an increase in demand across the island.
As a result, APUA expects to produce more units of water through new osmosis plants which it claims will come on stream by the end of the year.
“A few weeks ago, we were able to commission an expansion at Ffryes plant. The communities on the southern section of Antigua, already they are experiencing an increase in their water supply.
“By the end of June this year we are hoping to commission a reverse osmosis plant at Fort James which should be around 500,000 gallons and there are already plans in place to have another reverse osmosis plant at Bethesda and we are anticipating that should come on stream by the last quarter in the year,” Reynolds said on Observer AM yesterday.
While residents have been complaining that even on days when water is scheduled in their area they still do not receive any, Reynolds said APUA is working feverishly to address the situation.
“The demand on water has been increasing over the last month with the pandemic and all that so that is basically one of the main things that you have to put a schedule in place [for]. We know it is not comfortable; it is not ideal,” Reynolds noted.
She also said that the utilities company takes consumer complaints into consideration before the various water schedules are publicised.
“We are not yet at a place yet where we can just drop the restrictions on water scheduling, so until then, once a schedule is in … we normally analyse what it is in terms of complaints, some areas that are not receiving and then the schedule is adjusted accordingly to suit that,” Reynolds said.
Another issue Reynolds addressed is the abrupt end of access to water without notification in some areas. She explained that unexpected technical issues at the existing osmosis plants tend to be the culprit behind those situations.
“The reverse osmosis plants, they are all mechanical and, similar to your car that you go out one morning and your car is not starting, something happened.
“So, there are things that may happen at the reverse osmosis plant that will interrupt the normal scheduling as well, as there can be breaks in our transmission main or even in a community.
“It could be isolated to a particular area that is a break in the main in your village, so we would have to take off the main to stop the water from wasting,” she indicated.
In December 2021, a picket was attended by people of all ages who expressed their frustration at how the water service has been managed and distributed by APUA.
This caused an increase in social media posts where residents voiced their displeasure with being unable to have reliable water service for days, if not weeks, at a time.