By Orville Williams
Residents are in line for improved water services with the forthcoming addition of three new reverse osmosis plants.
APUA’s Water Business Unit manager, Ian Lewis, told a press conference yesterday the extra plants would greatly boost the provider’s capacity.
“Within the 2020 budget, we are scheduled to install a new plant at Fort James, which will be doing about 500,000 gallons per day, and we have also received funding from the Japanese [government], for a plant at Ffryes Beach, which will be doing about 350,000 gallons per day,” Lewis said.
“That will take the Ffryes Beach installation from about 600,000 gallons to close to a million, and with the plant added at Fort James, we’ll be able to use that plant to serve the northern side of St John’s city and also areas into McKinnon’s and probably Marble Hill,” he explained.
The Ffryes Beach plant, Lewis said, is a “gift” from Japan – through the Japan International Cooperation System – to the Ministry of Agriculture. However, APUA will be managing the operations of the plant on behalf of the ministry, as they have the requisite expertise.
“Those plants are expected to come online this year and that will add the spinning reserve that we need to the system, that will be able to address situations when we have major maintenance going on – and customers should see an increase in performance from the Water Business Unit,” Lewis added.
The third plant – at Bethesda – will not be going on stream as early as the prior two, with substantial research left to be undertaken, according to Lewis.
“The Bethesda plant … will produce two million gallons per day. At this present stage, we are still in the planning phase…we know the size, but a lot of data has to be collected, in terms of the quality of sea water in the area,” he said.
“We’re also trying to find other sources, instead of open seawater. We’re looking for ground water, which means we’re going to have to send a drill rig to explore water that’s underground. This should take about eight to 10 months just to get that data.
“We do have an idea of the size of the plant we need, but the other stuff, in terms of the quality of water and so on, that is still being worked on,” he added.
Currently, APUA’s Water Business Unit operates six reverse osmosis plants within the twin island state – one in Barbuda and five in mainland Antigua.
The Antigua-based plants are located at Crabb’s, Shell Beach, Camp Blizzard, Ffryes and Pigeon Point.