Minister Burch On Summer Water Supply Plans

June 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

Minister of Public Works Lt/Col David Burch provided an update on the state of water supply and distribution in advance of the “anticipated high demand this summer” in the House of Assembly on Friday [June 15].

The Minister said, “The Bermuda Weather Service is indicating that rainfall in Bermuda is below normal expectations. The total rainfall for the year to date, as of June 3rd is 20.62 inches, which is 1.43 inches below the normal average for this time of year.

“In the last 12 months the Water Section has made several improvements to the overall operation of the water system to respond to peak demand,” the Minister added, going on to explain some of the activities that are “being performed to further mitigate the effect of a possible dry spell and other issues outside the control of the Water and Sewage Section.”

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The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to provide an update on the state of water supply and distribution in advance of the anticipated high demand this summer.

The Bermuda Weather Service is indicating that rainfall in Bermuda is below normal expectations. The total rainfall for the year to date, as of June 3rd is 20.62 inches, which is 1.43 inches below the normal average for this time of year.

As background, Mr. Speaker, the Government water system provides piped water to approx. 2,000 households, businesses, the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, the Mid Atlantic Wellness Institute and is also the safety net for 2/3 of households, being the principal supplier of trucked water on the Island. During times of drought, some 40,000 Bermuda residents will rely on water trucks to meet their water needs. For the first five months of this year, the Water and Sewage section has sold 9.6 million imperial gallons to water truckers. For the same period last year, the Section sold 10.2 million imperial gallons of water.

Mr. Speaker, in the last 12 months the Water Section has made several improvements to the overall operation of the water system to respond to peak demand some of which include the following:

  • 1. The installation and commissioning of a third abstraction well for the Tynes Bay Reverse Osmosis plant to increase output to 1 million gallons per day with the ability to increase output further should the need arise.
  • 2. The installation and commissioning of a new central area pump station with power generator backup to ensure a reliable water supply to the Cedar Park and Mary Victoria communities as well as the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and the Mid Atlantic Wellness Institute. The manufacturers were on island last month for the successful commissioning of the pump station. Mr. Speaker, in layman’s terms – what this means is significant financial savings as the new pump station is very efficient and will operate through power failures to meet the drinking water demands from residents and water truckers alike.
  • 3. Installation and commissioning of a remote monitoring and control system for the central area capable of monitoring demand 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. This data can be accessed directly on operations staff mobile devices which facilitates early detection of distribution mains breakages, low or high tank levels, high flow alarms and power and communications outages. The system is currently being expanded to provide remote monitoring and control in the Southampton and St Georges areas.
  • 4. Replacement of 2,000 feet of obsolete corroded and leaking pipelines. This replacement was mostly in the Fort Prospect area where there was large amounts of cast iron piping.
  • 5. Replacement of the North Shore trucking outlet water tank and installation of remote level monitoring at that location.

Mr. Speaker, the Tynes Bay Seawater Reverse Osmosis Plant is the main source of water supply for the Central Parishes and is presently operating at almost maximum capacity. The central parish’s water supply is also being supplemented by water production at the Fort Prospect plant with reduced capacity as only one of the 5 production units is operational due to obsolete equipment failures and unsupported control systems. The other central area production facility at Devon Springs Road is no longer operational due to obsolete existing control systems and equipment as well as structural issues with the building.

For the Western Parishes, Mr. Speaker, the Tudor Hill Reverse Osmosis facility is down to one out of four production units for the same reasons as Fort Prospect.

And for St Georges Parish we have a single RO plant supplying water under contract. You will recall however, Mr. Speaker, that in February this year I reported on the Strategy for Sustainable Water and Wastewater Servicing which contained recommendations on how to provide more robust water and waste water servicing for St. George’s Parish. That initiative is advancing as the template for water and sewage management and once completed will serve as the model for island wide water and sewage management.

The production from all plants is meeting current demand. The reservoirs at Fort Prospect [Central Distribution hub] are presently being maintained at between 50% and 90% capacity.

Mr. Speaker, the West End Development Corporation [WEDCO] is assisting in the West Zone by providing supplementary water supply to a section of the Ministry’s distribution system located between Dockyard and Watford Bridge.

As with all types of infrastructure any catastrophic failure of the above plant or infrastructure will likely necessitate reduced access to water by piped and water trucker customers until such time as the failure is corrected and backlog of demand is met.

Mr. Speaker, the following activities are being performed to further mitigate the effect of a possible dry spell and other issues outside the control of the Water and Sewage Section:

We are in the process of retrofitting existing ultra-filtration units into modular standalone systems that can produce up to an additional 200 Gallons per Minute per unit at the Fort Prospect plant. This will greatly assist in lessening the impact of future dry spells and unforeseen issues with other entities that may impact the public water supply. The first retrofitted unit should be completed and commissioned by August 31st this year.

Mr. Speaker, we are also retrofitting the existing Quarry pumping station to more closely operate like the Devon Springs and Fort Prospect booster stations. This retrofit will be connected to the expanding remote monitoring and controls system and will provide real time monitoring that will allow us to deliver a more consistent service to customers in Hamilton Parish.

In the latter part of the year the remote monitoring and control system is to be expanded with the installation of 7 new electromagnetic flow meters at strategic locations and 4 tank level monitors to provide feedback in real time on demands and all tank levels in the water distribution system.

Mr. Speaker, the Ministry’s Water Section has also been working to support Tourism and the building of a new Hotel in St George’s. To that end a new supply main has recently been installed to supply water for construction of the new hotel. Furthermore it is hoped before the end of this financial year that there will be standby power generation for the St George’s water plant as well as the installation of new water mains to feed the St George’s water truck outlet and a refurbished/replaced storage reservoir at Fort Victoria, St George’s.

Mr. Speaker, the major threat to managing during a drought this summer is suffering mains breaks in a very old infrastructure. All in all though we believe we have taken major steps to minimize any challenges this summer. Mr. Speaker, you will know that we have increased the budget for the Water Section in excess of $800,000 this financial year so that proper investment in both staffing and infrastructure can occur.

We are currently working on a multi- year capital development programme to include detailed condition assessment of the assets, design and phased implementation of the strategy to provide for improved services to all customers over the next few years.

With all that said, Mr. Speaker, there still is a need for all island residents to be conscious of their water usage this summer, regularly check their tanks and above all conserve water.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you will agree that the water and sewage section have been very busy over the course of the last year – they currently have 17 staff, all of whom are Bermudian – ably led by Principal Engineer Water and Sewage J. Tarik Christopher. They take tremendous pride in their work and I wish to publicly commend and thank them for all their efforts on behalf of the people of Bermuda in this very critical area. I am certain that their efforts will contribute to minimal challenges this summer with water production and delivery.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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