Water Woes: Harbour Island residents frustrated over perennial water system failure

Water Woes: Harbour Island residents frustrated over perennial water system failure
In 2020, Consolidated Water (Bahamas) Ltd (CWCO) produced nearly 3.5 billion gallons of water and sold it to the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) at the average cost of less than $6 per US 1000 gallons. With the technology CWCO utilizes, its scale of production and the design of its supply contracts, the seawater reverse osmosis water supplier maintains strict quality guidelines in the production of water.

“I don’t think it’s fair after a long day of work you should come home to no work and unclean and unhealthy water” – Nesbitt Street resident

HARBOUR ISLAND, ELEUTHERA — After nearly two years of inconsistent water service on Nesbitt Street Harbour Island, Kendera Bethel said she and other residents who experience limited water supply have simply had enough and demand authorities provide consistent water utilities.

Kendera Bethel said the past two weeks without water was the worst it has ever been.

Bethel said it has been a frustrating journey dealing with the water challenges on the entire Eleuthera chain but her most recent two-week bout with no water has made it unbearable.

In an interview with Eyewitness News, she said: “It’s a concern for me because I don’t want and I don’t think I deserve to live in an environment, especially in a pandemic, with no water.

“I can’t believe that in the 21st century we are still here dealing with things like this. As a young woman, with there being no water, it’s very uncomfortable, it’s very frustrating”.

Bethel said: “It’s gotten to the point where there is no water coming out of my pipes. Who is going to be giving us answers and who is going to be communicating with us as to when there will be a change in the water situation?

“…Can you imagine living two weeks in an apartment, no water, there’s a pandemic and this is something that I’ve been dealing with for two years.”

The Nesbitt Street resident is among 20 other homes and several businesses that have been living with the vexing water conditions in that particular area.

Water is being stocked up to be used for everyday needs.

Bethel said thankfully she is able to shower or fetch water in bottles from other friends on the island who are not as affected but underscored that water is a basic necessity that should not be unattainable.

Though Bethel, along with many others on the street have water tanks that can be used, those tanks still need a consistent water supply to get filled, which has also not been feasible, she said.

She commended the improvement to the service from the rusty colored water in previous years to more potable water but added that the system remains unpredictable.

Bethel noted that although she has been living in Eleuthera for nearly four years, the problem existed way before she started experiencing them herself.

She urged officials to do a better job of communicating with the public about the reality of the water situation when they happen so people can know what to expect and how to mitigate their own water woes.

She said she will continue to raise awareness about the situation until it is fixed.

“I’m sorry, I am going to complain about water, whether you get irritated with me complaining or not. It’s a basic necessity” – BETHEL


Perennial Problem

The entire Eleuthera water system has been dealing with consistent hits and challenges over the past few years.

On December 15, 2020, there was an extended BPL power outage that interrupted the water supply in Upper and Lower Bogue, The Bluff, Current, and Harbour Island.

There were also rolling outages throughout last year with Harbour Island residents constantly lamenting the low water pressure or lack of supply that spanned from 48 hours to nearly seven days.

On February 11 and February 16, 2022, the Bahamas Water & Sewerage Corporation advised customers in North and Central Eleuthera that they may experience low water pressure or no water for several hours due to mechanical and electrical repairs.

Those areas affected were Upper and Lower Bogue, Oleander Gardens, Current, Bluff and Harbour Island, Gregory Town, Hatchet Bay, James Cistern, Governors Harbour, Palmetto Point, Savannah Sound, and Windermere Island.

In a statement last week on the current state of water supply on Harbour Island, the corporation acknowledged that the island continues to struggle with reduced water production, poor power supply, and antiquated infrastructure, which adversely affected customers.

The statement noted that these challenges were inherited by the new WSC chairman and the board of directors and traced the current faults to a compound of system weaknesses that occurred on December 12, 2021.

According to the corporation, those customers especially affected were those at the high elevations, or at the extreme ends of the system, like those on Nesbitt Street and Coconut Grove on Harbour Island, and those in Oleander Gardens and Gregory Town on the mainland, according to the corporation.

The corporation said a power grid fault occurred on North Eleuthera which lead to unprecedented grid voltage and power-related fluctuations. It advised that these fluctuations resulted in both electrical and mechanical failures in a number of major water systems on both North and Central Eleuthera.

The challenges also reportedly affected the corporation’s major reverse osmosis production plants operated by Suez/Aqua Design Bahamas.

The statement further noted that this same week a telecommunication cable was damaged, which resulted in the loss of communications between the reverse osmosis supplier and key advanced remote operational controllers.

The corporation noted that as a result of the unfortunate events, WSC has been systematically repairing and upgrading its system for sustained and robust operations and has been working at increasing capacity at several sites across the island.

Additionally, the corporation said it is also looking to engage a local expert to complete a comprehensive review, and prepare a long-term strategic plan for North Eleuthera, to meet present, medium, and long-term needs.

Though temporary fixes are still needed to be provided to address the current need, Bethel said she hopes a solution can be found for the wider Eleutheran community.

The Harbour Island resident has launched a petition to continue to bring attention to the matter. As of this weekend, the petition had just over 300 signatures with a goal of 500 signatures.



About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.


The Water & Sewage R/O stations need generator or solar back up as everyone knows you cannot depend on Bpl for consistent power; conctant outages and surges. But both water and cable on Eleuthera use Bpl as the scapegoat without making any attempt for a back up power source. Water is constantly a problem

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