WASA: 115,000 people without pipe-borne water

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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WASA acting CEO Kelvin Romain says about 100,000 people in Sangre Grande and 15,000 in Siparia have no pipe-borne water supply. However, he expected the situation in Siparia to be rectified by Wednesday night.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Romain said the disruption to the country’s water supply was the result of the five-day shutdown of the Point Lisas Desalination Plant for maintenance, and over-full rivers causing silt at water intakes and leaks in cross-country mains.

Director of operations Shaira Ali said WASA had completed repairs to infrastructure and was in the process of desilting to regulate water supplies as soon as possible.

Going into more detail, Ali said heavy rain caused high turbidity, flooded rivers and silted intakes at the Matura, Caura, Aripo and Guanapo water treatment facilities.

Repairs had been done to the North Oropouche, Aripo, and Cumuto plants which resulted in reinstated water supplies to several communities.

“At these facilities, the raw water and transmission mains were subjected to land movement, which resulted in high leakage, or several points along the system that were dislodged from the existing pipeline infrastructure.”

She said, in some areas, WASA redistributed the water supply or delivered truck-borne water to customers.

“We at the authority and at the ground level will continue to manage those situations and respond quickly to ensure that where customers are still without supply, or they are still challenged, that the service level will be restored in the shortest possible time.”

Romain added that the North Oropouche water treatment plant produced about 20 million imperial gallons of water per day and Sangre Grande consumed about half of that. The rest goes to areas west of the town, up to Arouca.

“That plant services a very large area. So once we have any shortfalls, we have no choice but to ration accordingly. So in that instance, our Grande off-take would have some hits which would also affect the supply to Manzanilla, and we are quite aware of this.”

He stressed that the desalination plant was working at maximum capacity and would be producing an additional four million gallons of water from 11 am-6 pm to “fill some gaps.” The Caroni water treatment plant would also increase its supply by five million gallons.

Ali said WASA was assessing the situation for long-term solutions, including relocating pipelines.

She said the company planned several works to improve the water supply, including emergency cleaning work at the North Oropouche treatment facility on Thursday. Customers should expect their water supply to be restored 24 hours after the process was completed.

WASA also intended to incorporate additional ground- and surface- water sources to augment the supply to the plant to serve Sangre Grande and areas west of the town, including Brazil, Maloney, Five Rivers, Malabar and O’Meara.

In addition, it would instal modular water treatment facilities at Vega de Oropouche and Turure, and drill wells in other areas of northeast Trinidad to supplement the existing network.

“Overall, from these projects, it is expected that several communities (in Five Rivers and Tacarigua) will now see improved levels of service and, in some instances, customers who are underserved will now see, at least, a minimum of 24/3.”

Romain added that he noted the concerns of the public, and encouraged people to report issues directly to him via WhatsApp at 493-4236 in addition to the WASA hotline.