Potworks Dam almost dry, residents urged to conserve water

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With the supply at the country’s main surface water catchment approaching critically low levels, the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) will almost be totally dependent on water produced by reverse osmosis to meet the demands of consumers.

And the message to residents is to conserve the precious commodity as the company will be instituting a water distribution schedule from next week in order to cope with the looming shortage.

“The Water Business Unit will have to activate a water distribution schedule as soon as the end of the week or early next week. This is in response to a very limited supply of water and we’re urging persons to conserve,” APUA’s Public Relations Coordinator, Sharifa George, said.

During a walkthrough of the Potworks Dam, yesterday, the Supervisor of Water Treatment at APUA’s Water Division, Livingston Samuel, told the media that the height of the water in Potworks Dam is approximately three feet.

“At this point, you can say that we have used up all that is available, quality-wise and volume-wise for the consumer to use,” he said. “This is the cut-off point where we actually stop drawing water from it.”

Samuel also encouraged residents to play their part in coping with the water situation, by conserving the scarce commodity.

 “We at [APUA] have always stressed for consumers to conserve water and be frugal in their use of it. We have been getting cooperation from the public in reporting leaks. We have also been trying to pick up our responses to leaks and getting them repaired in a timely manner; and that’s the message I want to continue to convey to the public – just conserve and report the leaks, and if you see we haven’t responded in maybe 24 hours/48 hours, then give us a call. It may be that we may have had mechanical problems with trucks or something, but we also appreciate the public weighing on us and keeping us on our toes to come and repair the leak,” he said.

However, the Mechanical Engineer attached to APUA’s Water Business Unit, Tesfa Francis, said that APUA is looking at reverse osmosis as one way to alleviate the water situation.

“We would have taken the position to have Antigua 100 percent reliant on reverse osmosis water. Reasons being that, yes, when we have surface water and well water, we would use that, but in recent times you would realize the climate variability and lack of rain, so we would have taken the approach to do 100 percent desalination.

“By saying that, in the past few years, we have seen a lot of work at these plants trying to achieve their maximum production and that would include upgrades, membrane change-outs and additional mechanical work,” Francis said.

During heavy rainfall in early June, the amount of water that was collected in Potworks Dam took the level to 10 feet.

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