Hampton Pumping Station, located in St. Philip, is back online. However, during the course of the next week, it will be periodically offline to fix some damaged cables and pumps.
This was disclosed by Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Wilfred Abrahams, while giving an update on the Barbados Water Authority’s (BWA) pumping station, during a press conference at his Country Road, St. Michael office, this morning.
“We’ve had an unfortunate series of events that happened over the last 10 days… the serious outages we had with the Barbados Light and Power and the disruptions to our systems. It wasn’t simply a disruption to our systems, it affected the Barbados Water Authority perhaps in every facet of our operation,” he stated.
As a result of the power outages at Hampton Pumping Station, he said “all 10 of the pumps and Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs)… brain of the pump, what tells the pump what to do, every single one went down…. Even when the electricity came back up… some violent surges occurred which knocked out the equipment again causing major damage to our VFDs”.
Minister Abrahams disclosed that 10 new VFDs had been ordered, but they take a while to manufacture, and added, “we don’t intend for this situation to happen to us [BWA] again”.
The VFDs in use will soon receive extensive repairs from a Panamanian technician, who should be in the island this weekend.
On Monday, BWA crews were able to complete repair work on the damaged well floor platform at the station and as of late last night, pumping resumed at that facility, however, at a reduced capacity.
BWA’s Director of Engineering, Charles Leslie, explained that the Hampton Pumping Station, with a maximum distribution capacity of six million gallons per day, which is augmented with water from Groves Pumping Station to some Christ Church and most of St. Philip districts, currently does not have redundancy pumping capacity.
Mr. Leslie explained that redundancy refers to “extra capacity in terms of pumps so that if the one that you’re depending on to supply the customer fails, you can just switch to another one without the customer experiencing interruptions”.
To restore redundancy pumping capacity, Mr. Leslie stated that during the course of next week the station would experience temporary offline service, while BWA crews seek to repair and replace damaged pumps and cable.
“Replacement of the cable in itself is going to be a very tedious and onerous task on our guys. The cable is about 160 feet long; it is a very heavy cable and we have to install that using trucks and pulleys and everything to get it into the well,” he said.
Minister Abrahams also stressed that with all of the technical challenges the BWA was experiencing, it was compounded by the fact that Barbados is still in a drought situation, despite the recent rains, and the water levels in the reservoirs were “very, very low”, and some “completely bone dry”.
“We are going to have to look as a country not just at our distribution network but also how we consume water. Barbadians are going to have to start building or buying water saving devices. Barbadians need to start installing tanks on their premises,” he said.
Mr. Abrahams, who said we are “not in normal times” is urging the public to start storing five gallons of water per person per day, as is recommended during the hurricane season practice.
He also informed the media that the mains repair Find All Fix All programme was affected, since its human resources were pulled to assist in repairs to stations affected by the power outages, and a status update would soon be given, including the timeline for completion of the programme.
The Minister also revealed that plans were being discussed to have additional desalination plants in St. Lucy and Joe’s River, St. Joseph, and that the BWA had ordered five water tankers, with assistance from the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
The GCF is a financial mechanism under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which helps fund climate finance investment.
Mr. Abrahams commended the BWA staff for their “continuous around the clock efforts” to restore normalcy to its operations, and assured the public that the Authority is doing its best in the current circumstances.