MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND WORKS
HON. MARK VANTERPOOL
SECOND SITTING OF THE FIRST SESSION OF THE THIRD HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
MONDAY, JULY 6, 2015
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to present an update on the water situation in the Territory, which I know is uppermost on the minds of many of our residents, who have been suffering from the lack of an adequate water supply for some time.
I wish to reassure this Honourable House, that, this Government has made it a top priority to urgently upgrade our Water Distribution Network and we continue to work on this project.
We have already put in place measures to provide temporary relief to residents in the areas most affected by water shortages.
In recent months, we have been working on improving our assets, including our reservoirs and our water mains.
We acknowledge that there is much more work to be done and we will continue to do the work, with the goal of having the main issues rectified by the end of this year.
Madam Speaker, allow me to address the issues on the four major islands, separately.
I am pleased to report that some consumers in the central part of the island have been receiving a more consistent water supply for the past six months.
There are still some issues in areas including the East and the West and some central parts, such as McNamara and Russell Hill, Sea Cow’s Bay, West End, Carrot Bay, Apple Bay, Belmont Estate, Cane Garden Bay and from Paraquita Bay to Beef Island.
However, we are working to improve the situation.
Madam Speaker, the Biwater Plant is running on 3 trains, producing approximately 1.6 million gallons of water, most days.
We are expanding the transmission and delivery capability between Sabbath Hill and the Fort Hill junction and also along the Ridge Road, connecting Sabbath Hill through Chalwell into the Hannah Hill Reservoir.
Regarding this project, we are awaiting the delivery of pipework to the Territory in the next couple of weeks.
Madam Speaker, we are also making special plans in the distribution system, to receive water in the Zion Hill Reservoir, from Sabbath Hill.
In addition, we have completed preparations to bring back into service, the 700,000 gallon water storage tank, at the BVI Electricity Corporation premises in Pockwood Pond.
This will give us the capability to distribute water from the Hannah Hill Reservoir to West End.
Madam Speaker, we are about to commence expansion work in McNamara, which will consist of the installation of 600 feet of pipework from the Department of Disaster Management’s office to upper McNamara, to provide a temporary bypass for a faulty pump which boosts water up to the McNamara area.
This has allowed us to now be able to get water to customers in the McNamara area on a consistent and reliable basis.
We are having challenges with some aging pipes throughout the Territory, which leads to major breaks from time to time.
The leak prone areas are being addressed in a speedy fashion; in fact, currently, it will be noticed that we are at the top of Fort Hill, upgrading pipes in the area.
Madam Speaker, we have had some issues with low production levels from the water plants on that island, particularly in North Sound.
For the long term, we are negotiating a new agreement with the plant owners in Virgin Gorda.
But in the meantime, a decision was taken to barge water from Tortola over to the sister island for a few days, in an effort to provide some immediate relief for the residents there.
So far, we have barged 272,000 gallons of water to Virgin Gorda, beginning on Wednesday 24th June to Saturday 27th June.
This provided a temporary means of relief until the membranes on the plant could be upgraded.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to report, that upgrades to the membranes were completed by the evening of Friday 3rd July.
Since then, the water situation has improved as follows:
The North Sound Plant has improved from 42,000 imperial gallons per day to 50,400 gallons per day;
The Minton Hill Reservoir in The Valley has also improved from 273,000 imperial gallons a day to 330,000 imperial gallons per day.
We have still not resolved all of the issues, but we continue to work on certain inconsistencies in the productivity of the plants on Virgin Gorda.
Suffice it to say, Madam Speaker, the situation has improved and we should be revising the schedules as soon as possible, to provide a more consistent water supply, on a longer term basis, to the people of Virgin Gorda.
Water delivery schedules in The Valley will be improved by two hours and we will now provide water between 5am and 9pm.
This will remain in place until the new plant is fully restored.
Water is now being provided on a more consistent basis as well in North Sound, with the recent improvements.
Madam Speaker, we agree that we need to get past this challenge of having water schedules in the Territory, but we ask for the public’s continued patience, as we work, as speedily as we can, to provide a more consistent water supply throughout the Territory.
I am very pleased to hear, Madam Speaker, what a difference our Government's recent efforts have made and what a relief this has been, to the people of Virgin Gorda.
Jost Van Dyke
Madam Speaker, about 5 to 6 weeks ago, on Jost Van Dyke, there was a water issue related to the reservoir not getting filled.
Subsequently, a team from the Water and Sewerage Department spent the day on the island and I am pleased to report, that, they were successful in locating an underground leak on one of the mains leading to the reservoir that had not yet surfaced.
Madam Speaker, that situation has now been resolved.
The situation on Anegada, Madam Speaker, I am happy to say, is relatively stable.
Notwithstanding that, we are looking at whatever improvement is needed, including upgrades to the plant and installing pipelines to areas that do not have access to water at the moment.
Generally speaking, Madam Speaker, all of the water production plants in the Territory need standby generators, which will kick in as a backup, in the event there is a power outage.
This will allow for the continuous production of water, at all of these plants.
Our Government is also giving consideration to the use of more environmentally friendly methods to produce water going forward, e.g. the use of solar methods, instead of diesel, to provide power to the plants.
Madam Speaker, on behalf of the Government, as Minister responsible for the subject, I apologize for the inconvenience caused by the many interruptions in the water supply across the Territory and I assure this Honourable House and the people of the Territory, once again, that every effort is being made to speedily remedy the situation of water distribution throughout the Territory.
Thank you very much Madam Speaker.