The Grand Bahama Utility Company (GBUC) is pleased to announce that development of its new, three-million-gallon Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant has entered the final stage. This step in the process includes the arrival of the final water filtration skid. This key milestone will allow for testing and commissioning of the facility, and the RO plant will be fully operational by the first week of November.
“The commissioning of the RO consists of extensive testing including environmental monitoring and regulatory approval to ensure system integrity and guarantee that the system satisfies all requirements to declare potability,” explained Remington Wilchcombe, GBUC Operations Manager. Regulatory protocols require the GBUC to conduct potability tests and have the results validated by an independent source for a 30-day period before officially declaring potability.
An integral part of the testing and commissioning phase is the system flushing process. “This systematic procedure will ensure the complete removal of all non-potable water from the piping system to ensure the continuous supply of high-quality potable water,” continued Mr. Wilchcombe. “During this process, customers are likely to recognize an improvement in the quality of their water. However, we are mandated by the regulatory authority to show consistent results for thirty days, especially after major storm events like Hurricane Dorian, before we can safely declare full potability. Therefore, during that period, the 25% discount currently in place for those customers still without potable water and free water depots will remain in place.”
GBUC Director of Operations Philcher Grant noted that the GBUC team, along with Bahamas Hot Mix (BHM), partners for the construction and commissioning of the RO plant, are diligently working together to complete the facility. She highlighted that it was a noteworthy achievement and investment by GBUC to ensure that Grand Bahamians will never again be without potable water for a prolonged period.
“GBUC has made a significant capital investment to provide resiliency and storm hardening of our systems, efforts that are necessary in light of climate change and anticipated increase in frequency and strength of future storms,” said Ms. Grant in outlining details of the utility’s investment in water infrastructure. “Hurricane Dorian taught us many lessons and we have suffered major loss during this time of economic challenges. The RO will ensure that the island’s fresh water supply will never again be interrupted for a long period due to the effects of a devastating storm.
“This has been a costly exercise for GBUC,” Ms. Grant continued. “Since Hurricane Dorian, the utility has lost over $3.7 million in revenue as a result of the 25% discount provided to customers and spent over $569k to cover the costs of free water distribution stations located in non-potable areas throughout the island. On top of that is, of course, our $5 million investment in the RO facility and the subsequent increased operational costs.”
GBUC confirms that it will continue to offer the current 25% discount for customers without potable water until they have received environmental approval for potable declaration. GBUC will also maintain free water sites where potable water has not been restored.
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