The Grand Bahama Utility Company Limited (GBUC) has developed a COVID-19 Contingency Plan and is executing preventive safety measures at local water depot distribution sites island-wide.
Philcher Grant, Director of Group Corporate Affairs & Government Relations said, “Over the last few weeks, the GBUC team has been working hard to develop preventative plans by way of response to the threat of a COVID-19 outbreak in Grand Bahama. We want to share our initial plans with residents and give details about what the GBUC is doing. And, we will share the remainder of our plans over the coming days and weeks.”
The GBUC has embarked on a multi-tiered strategy that targets precautionary measures to avoid the spread of COVID-19 at remote water distribution sites, while still implementing the two-part plan to restore potable water island wide post Hurricane Dorian. “We are on track and continue to develop new wells to ensure we bring potable water back by May. We also want to assure you that all of our present potable water sites throughout the island are being maintained and monitored to ensure they are safe. We have also been working with relevant stakeholders” confirmed Geron Turnquest, General Manager of GBUC.
A suspension of any disconnections was stressed to reassure customers. Turnquest stated, “The GBUC will ensure that all persons connected with water will not be disconnected at this time. We want to ensure that everybody has water to take care of their hygiene and other needs.”
The GBUC COVID-19 protocol which ensures the safe distribution of potable water at distribution sites island wide was outlined, these stations are open to the public on a daily basis to provide potable water free of charge to residents. Trevor Simmons, Business Development Officer said, “Water monitors are stationed at each site to handle taps and fixtures for filling. Handwashing stations will be erected at each water distribution site. We also want the public to know that there is no shortage of water.”
In keeping with the Ministry of Health’s suggested methods of social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Simmons further asked for the public’s cooperation. “We ask that when at water distribution sites, kindly distance yourself from others, as much as possible, while waiting for your water container to be filled. Also, please follow any instructions given by monitors. If you have symptoms, we ask that you send someone else to collect water for you and avoid the public distribution sites.”
Residents were also reminded that certified water providers are fully operational and open to the public. These companies received their certification by passing two required tests from the Department of Environmental Health (DEH). This confirms that their physical plant has been inspected by DEH and that the water quality meets the standards and guidelines set by the World Health Organization. These companies include Pure Ltd., Bahama Fresh Water & Ice, Crystal Clear H20, Full Oasis Water Center and Sunny Isles.
Ms. Grant added, “We recognize that persons are very concerned. People have understandably expressed fear over COVID-19. I want to assure you; we are going to be with you every step of the way. We are going to do what we have always done as Grand Bahamians, which is to get through this together. One thing I know about this island, we are nothing, if not resilient.”
Grant also cautioned residents against misleading actions of certain persons on social media sites by saying, “We would really like to caution the public at this time about the circulation of false information from unaccredited sources. This is not the time to create mass panic and hysteria. We urge you to follow the relevant, accredited agencies including Ministry of Health, Grand Bahama Port Authority, the World Health Organization and the Centre for Disease Control. We ask that everyone practices safety and responsibility as well.