The recent rains have boosted ground water supply permitting the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) to slow the pace of construction and improve the design of its desalination plant at Ffryes Beach.
Water Manager, Ivan Rodrigues told The Daily OBSERVER that because of the long-running drought, APUA was originally trying to finish the project on the 15th of last month.
“But we were lucky to receive the rain before that time and the design team made a conscious decision of changing the design for the intake structure,” Rodrigues said. “Before, we were going at a time frame because we were going through a drought and we needed to get the water as soon as possible and the design we were using, we realised that we would have had to revisit it in the future. So we are now taking the time to make sure we do it one time.”
He explained that desalination and the efficiency of a desalinating plant is dependent on the quality of the water that reaches the plant.
“And in Antigua and the Caribbean in general, during the winter months, you have what is called sea swells, resulting from the cold waters coming down from the Arctic and warm waters of the Caribbean mixing,” the water manager said. “There is turbulence taking place under the surface that brings sediments from the bottom up to the top. It affects the water quality and makes desalinating water difficult because you first have to remove all that debris.
“So what the engineers did, seeing that we had the time now, they opted to change that design that we presently have, to something that we believe would not be affected by those occurrences,” the APUA water manager explained.
Rodrigues told this newspaper, “the desalinating plant is being funded from the eight million dollar-grant government negotiated from the government of Venezuela … for the Water Division’s infrastructure development. About a third of the project which includes mains replacement and extension, the construction of storage tanks and desalination for Barbuda, has been completed.”