Excess rains take country off water rationing schedule

Potworks Dam after last week’s rain (file)
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By Elesha George

[email protected]

The Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) will begin to relax its water conservation schedule beginning this week, thanks to the millions of gallons of water produced by torrents of rain last Monday and Tuesday.

Consumers can expect water around the clock for the next seven months, according to Water Business Unit Manager Ian Lewis, who said, “we will start relaxing our conservation, our customers will see 24-hour service and if we do have customers that are not seeing 24-hour service, we ask that you call 211 to let us be aware of the area that you’re in”.

Technicians at the APUA started treating ground and surface water last Thursday to put into circulation a total of 800 million gallons to consumers, that is likely to last until the wet season in June 2021. 

At least 50 per cent of that amount is contained inside Potworks Dam – which technicians’ estimate holds up to 500 million gallons water.

“Potworks is presently at about 16 feet, which would make it just a little bit past half of its capacity. So, our estimation is that it should have 400 to 500 million gallons of water,” Lewis said.

The Potworks reservoir has an evaporation rate of about one million gallons of water a day and unfortunately Lewis said based on the daily quantity being used up, they are likely to lose up to two million gallons each day from the dam.

However, with the addition of four other reservoirs on the island, the water will be enough to meet the daily demand of seven million gallons of water.  

“We’re estimating that we have about seven months of water before we can start cutting back on conservation measures,” he said.

The first plant used to distribute water is the Delapps water treatment plant at Potworks – that came on stream at 9 am Monday morning. It will produce 800,000 gallons of water a day which will add to the 6.3 million gallons that the department had been distributing on its conservation schedule.

“With the Bendals reservoirs being full, we expect each reservoir to have about six to eight weeks production and there are approximately four of them,” the manager explained.

Three hundred thousand gallons of water will also come from the reservoir in Bendals valley, while desalination units will continue to produce more than six million gallons a day.

By cleaning the Big Creek reservoir during the drought, Lewis said APUA had increased its capacity by about 40 per cent, and that helped the dam to retain more water during the heavy rains.

Residents are however still being reminded to conserve water as best as possible.

Last week’s trough system caused wide spread flooding and more than $163 million in infrastructural damage, but at least one good thing came from the heavy rains.

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