GB still struggles with access to potable water post-Dorian

GB still struggles with access to potable water post-Dorian
Workers from the GB Utility Company.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – With aid from international humanitarian agencies  phasing out soon, Grand Bahama will need to find a solution to its potable water needs, revealed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

The issue was raised in the agency’s November 20 update on Hurricane Dorian recovery and reconstruction efforts.

“There is still a problem with potable water on the island,” the statement noted.

“While the NGOs are providing free water and producing 35,000 gallons daily, a solution needs to be found, as these services will soon phase out.”

The Category 5 storm devastated parts of Grand Bahama and Abaco in early September, debilitataing utlity services on both islands and leaving thousands displaced.

The wrath of the storm compromised the island’s ‘supply’ of fresh salt-free water in its wellfields.

Residents have been  advised through public notices that the water can be used for sanitary purposes only and not for consumption.

Since the passage of the strongest storm to hit Northwest Bahamas, the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) has partnered with the Grand Bahama Utility Company Limited (GBUC), the National Emergency Management Agency and several NGOs to provide free drinking water to local communities at water distribution sites island-wide.

Those NGOs include Isra-Aid, Samaritan’s Purse, Mercy Corps, Siemens, Resolve Marine, Water Mission, International Medical Corp, Operators without Borders, ADRA and more.

Earlier this month GBUC said it was making steady progress towards the full return of potable water on the island.

Ongoing assessments revealed a continuing decline in salinity levels.

“The GBUC is committed to resolving the issue of salinity levels as a result of the tidal surge,” said Grand Bahama Port Authority President Ian Rolle, in a statement on the matter.

“The actual water pressure and the volume pumped per day is back up to pre-storm levels which is reassuring.

“Key infrastructure works are in progress and we continue to confer with the experts to bring about the best and speediest return to our pre-storm highest quality fresh water.”

In light of efforts to reduce water salinity to World Health Organization standards, the GBUC has also discussed the possibility of a Reverse Osmosis (RO) System.

Geron Turnquest, General Manager of the GBUC said in the same statement that, “We have considered the possibility of introducing a large-scale Reverse Osmosis System.

“But we are advised that this presents challenges.  Despite it being an expensive investment that will impact the cost of water to the consumer, it will also take a minimum of three to four months to develop.

“By this time, we aim to have resolved this salinity issue with new measures in place.  An RO system on this scale would only be needed if the possibility of having no fresh water exists.”