Successful groundwater abstraction by CWSA engineers and technicians. Photo credit (CWSA)
Breaking News
April 12, 2021
CWSA trying to get system back up to 50% by tomorrow

The Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA) is trying its best to get their system back up to “about 50 per cent” by tomorrow, and have water flowing in more pipes.

Communities across the country have been contending with no flowing water supply following the explosive eruptions ongoing at La Soufriere, which caused the CWSA to shut its system. The Authority, in its plan in the event of an explosive eruption, had advised persons to store approximately 10 gallons of water per person per day, and prepare to be without water for five days.

They would then embark on a series of sampling river water quality, and hope that after 72 hours, a system of daily water supply and restriction would be implemented.

Until assured of the quality of water to be used to replenish supplies, they have to ration the previously extracted and treated water which is limited. The water has to be used judiciously and health facilities and shelters are prioritized.

On Saturday April 10, according to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Garth Saunders, the CWSA planned to visit treatment plants to test the water coming into the plants.

They were endeavouring to distribute water to most areas without water that day, and supply a minimum of two hours per day to most areas. Additionally, they would truck water to high areas.

Saunders, calling into NBC radio today, April 11, indicated, that as it relates to delivering water to some areas for two hours, “This we were able to do in a large way – but there were still some pockets that did not receive water.”

He informed that the critical situation they are dealing with is that “… the Jennings system (on the Windward coast) which supplies just about 40 per cent of our population is still down and our staff are still not able to get in to the Jennings intake because there are many fallen trees.”

They are dealing with getting through the fallen ash that has blanketed the country, and a possibility of pyroclastic flows.

“We are hoping to move equipment into the area and to try to get access to our treatment plant. Once we do that, we should be able to get water back in the system fairly quickly,” Saunders said on the morning of April 11.

The rain that fell on Sunday was welcomed by many because it could wash away the ash deposits that had settled, even if it would clump and cause some blockage to drains.

Saunders disclosed that the rain had “an initial effect of washing the ash and some mud into the rivers and is producing a froth-like slurry which we have to see that run off first.”

“We were hoping that the self-cleansing properties of the rivers would act, and have the water clear up to the extent that we could actually get water back in the system. And this happened not just in the Jennings side but on all our intakes,” he explained,  “So the rainfall, while it is good – cleans the street – it’s causing a problem for us initially in the intake.”

The water quality at all intakes is poor. This is the Dalaway intake. (Photo credit CWSA)

Nevertheless, by the end of today, the CWSA was hoping to have a better take on the water quality.

On the other hand, they have had success in abstracting a groundwater well in Pembroke, being used to supply water to the emergency shelters on the Leeward side.

On this topic, Saunders said any help is welcome, to any “persons who are able to assist with transporting water to the shelters.”

“…What we probably need is vehicles and trucks and persons to volunteer as they did quite successfully during the 2013 Christmas floods,” he said.

The CWSA emergency number is (784)457-1445.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, also on the radio station, made an appeal to persons with construction companies to help in this regard.

Drinking water to be supplied to the shelters is also necessary.

Saunders concluded for his update, “We are hopeful that we can continue our restoration process and we are hopeful that sometime by about tomorrow (April 12) we can get the system back up to about 50 per cent and we can get water flowing in more pipes than we presently have.”