The Grand Bahama Utility Company (GBUC), with the support of expert hydrologists, continues to advance toward full restoration of potable water to the island. Given its progress to date, GBUC expects to achieve full restoration by March 2020.
With more than 90 percent of the island’s water sources inundated by storm surge during Hurricane Dorian, rebuilding Grand Bahama’s water infrastructure is a complex and challenging task. “We’ve seen a marked improvement in the reduction of water salinity in the island’s supply,” said GBUC Engineering Manager Remington Wilchcombe. “After three months, we’re recording approximately 2,800 parts per million (PPM) overall, which is a vast improvement from the 7,000 PPM recorded after Hurricane Dorian. The goal is to reach 1,500 PPM, which is our standard.”
The GBUC, supported by the Grand Bahama Port Authority and a host of international partners and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), is restoring the island’s water plant facilities, including upgrades to pumpage and the replacement of damaged equipment. “We’re grateful to international NGO partners such as IsraAid and Water Earth & Science Inc., who have brought a wealth of knowledge and technical know-how to the recovery effort,” noted Wilchcombe. “Not only have they been instrumental in the supply and distribution of potable water throughout the island, but with expertise gathered through work in other disaster areas, they offered insights on new pumping regimes and other strategies which could be used to extract salt from the water lens.”
As work has progressed, the focus has broadened, from the sole priority of potable water restoration to ensuring that our reconstructed systems are able to withstand the impact of future storms. “We’re using data from hydrogeological studies to help us determine the long-term impact of seawater on the water lens,” Wilchombe explained. “We not only need to restore drinking water, but ensure what we repair is resilient and fortified for the future.”
With the airport open, tourists returning to the island and the resumption of other services, residents expect water to be at its usual high standard on Grand Bahama. “We know residents are frustrated with the current water situation,” said Wilchcombe. “We too want to see full restoration of our water and we thank the public for their patience. We are working tirelessly to get things back to pre-storm conditions, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. We’ll make it happen as quickly as we can.”