Gibson: WSC making progress in restoring supply to Abaco

Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson announced yesterday that 12 settlements on Abaco have had water supply restored in the months after Hurricane Dorian.

During a press conference yesterday, he also said the corporation intends to install solar power at its Marsh Harbour distribution site, making that the “most advanced pumping station in the Family Islands”.

“The corporation can confirm that we have returned normal water supply to our customers in the following settlements on mainland Abaco: Crown Haven, Fox Town, Mount Hope, Wood Cay, Cedar Harbour, Cooper’s Town, Fire Road, Blackwood, Casuarina, Cherokee, Crossing Rocks and Sandy Point,” Gibson said.

He added, “Last week, WSC mobilized a private contractor to assist our team working to complete extensive repairs to our Marsh Harbour distribution system, which includes the communities of Marsh Harbour, Spring City, Dundas Town, Murphy Town, Central Pines, Pelican Shores and Eastern Shores.

“It is expected that these works will continue for the next few months, resulting in substantial improvements in the reliability of our Marsh Harbour water supply system – we’ve had quite a bit of leaks along the distribution system in Marsh Harbour and we’re looking to repair that.

“At the Marsh Harbour pumping station site, WSC has commenced major clearance works for a new 1.5-imperial-gallon storage tank that has been contracted, and a new pump station building and two new solar fields, so we’re incorporating solar in our operations.

“New standby generators were also delivered this week, for both the new pumping station and another for the well fields.

“When completed, our Marsh Harbour pumping station will be our most advanced pumping station in the Family Islands, with sufficient solar capacity to operate our entire well field and pumping station along with standby power and BPL power for use when the sunlight is not available, so we are going solar here at WSC.”

Gibson said that work on the solar fields is set to begin “in the next week or so”, and that the corporation hopes for the solar power to be up and running in the coming weeks.

He also noted that repair work remains ongoing and is “expected to continue for the next few months” on Abaco, including demolition and replacement of damaged equipment, as well as new purchases including vehicles, water storage tanks and an office on Treasure Cay.

While acknowledging the assistance of non-governmental operations in the aftermath of the monster storm, Gibson said the corporation has been “taking over” restoration efforts and that it may need additional funding from government in order to complete its projects.

“We requested from the government some time ago when we did our preliminary assessment $15 million,” Gibson said.

“As we go along, we discover new things here and there, we may have to go back and request another few million.

“But at this point we are still using some of the $15 million, and as you all would know that $15 million would come from the IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) contingent funds with respect to hurricanes, and so at this point we are using that and we’ll see what happens.”

Payment of overtime for hurricane restoration efforts has been a point of contention in ongoing strike action that some members of the Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) are engaged in.

While BUSAWU President Dwayne Woods has claimed that workers were not paid for working after the storm in unsanitary conditions, WSC executives have insisted that overtime was being abused with some workers allegedly reporting hundreds of hours of overtime.

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