The Grand Bahama Utility Company (GBUC) announced yesterday that its new reverse osmosis plant (RO) will be fully operational by the first week in November, after entering into the final phase of the $5 million project.
Construction on the new three-million-gallon reverse osmosis plant began in January and suffered a short delay this summer when critical equipment was not shipped on time.
GBUC Director of Operations Philcher Grant said as a result the utility company is roughly $9 million in the hole including lost revenue, building costs and providing free water while constructing the new plant.
“This has been a costly exercise for GBUC. Since Hurricane Dorian, the utility has lost over $3.7 million in revenue as a result of the 25 percent discount provided to customers and spent over $569,000 to cover the costs of free water distribution stations located in non-potable areas throughout the island,” she said.
“On top of that is, of course, our $5 million investment in the RO facility and the subsequent increased operational costs.”
Grant added, “GBUC has made a significant capital investment to provide resiliency and storm hardening of our systems, efforts that are necessary in light of climate change and anticipated increase in frequency and strength of future storms. Hurricane Dorian taught us many lessons and we have suffered major losses during this time of economic challenges. The RO will ensure that the island’s fresh water supply will never again be interrupted for a long period due to the effects of a devastating storm.”
This final phase marked by the arrival of the final water filtration skid, GBUC said, involves extensive testing – which must take place for a 30-day period – and commissioning of the facility.
GBUC Operations Manager Remington Wilchcombe said the tests include environmental monitoring and regulatory approval in order for it to be declared potable.
procedure will ensure the complete removal of all non-potable water from the piping system to ensure the continuous supply of high-quality potable water. During this process, customers are likely to recognize an improvement in the quality of their water,” he said in a statement released yesterday.
“However, we are mandated by the regulatory authority to show consistent results for thirty days, especially after major storm events like Hurricane Dorian, before we can safely declare full potability. Therefore, during that period, the 25 percent discount currently in place for those customers still without potable water and free water depots will remain in place.”
In 2019, Hurricane Dorian caused severe damage to one of GBUC’s fresh water aquifers, which, prior to the storm, serviced 60 percent of the island.
While the majority of the island’s residents and businesses have potable water, approximately 30 percent have been without potable water since the devastating storm two years ago.