The preliminary cost to restore damaged water and sewerage infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Dorian could be around $15 million to $20 million, Executive Chairman of the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) Adrian Gibson told Guardian Business yesterday, adding that the corporation has encountered significant damage to its infrastructure in the Abacos.
Gibson added that lost revenue from Abaco, WSC’s second-largest revenue earner, will affect the corporation’s bottom line. For comparison, he explained that in 2017 Abaco brought in $2.67 million of the of $7.6 million collected in the Family Islands, while in 2018 it brought in $3.1 million of the $8.2 million collected in the Family Islands.
According to Gibson, Abaco suffered extensive water inclusion into its system, as water is derived from wells on the island. He added that the corporation has had water samples tested and found disturbing results that have led to repetitive flushing and treatment of the water on the island.
“We have had some concerning results in certain communities on Abaco, so we have decided to continue testing, treating and flushing the water,” Gibson said.
“In some areas, we have had some very troubling results. We have issued a boil water order throughout Abaco from end to end.”
He said the “absolute destruction” of public infrastructure, homes and life on Abaco is something he will never forget.
WSC lost reverse osmosis (RO) plants, heavy equipment and multiple offices on Abaco, Gibson said, adding that a $1.5 million pipeline suffered damage and will likely have to be replaced, and 3,900 service laterals will also have to be replaced.
“There are areas where we have suffered major damage, loss of storage tanks and RO plants on three cays,” said Gibson.
“All vehicles have been compromised by floodwater.”
WSC infrastructure on Moore’s Island, which received extensive damage, was slated to be restored yesterday. Water service has been restored to South Abaco.
Gibson explained that the corporation has been rotating teams in and out of the Abacos in order to get reconstruction done. He added that the Abaco team was evacuated following the storm and given allowances, time off and counseling.
Gibson said WSC has dispatched employees to Grand Bahama to assist the Grand Bahama Utility Company.
“We met and discussed collaborative efforts to reconstruct Grand Bahama,” he said.
Gibson said WSC made a presentation to the Cabinet, which he said is cognizant of the importance of getting potable water to the people of Abaco.
“The government has been accommodating,” he said.