June 16, 2021 – Freeport, The Bahamas – The Grand Bahama Utility Company (GBUC) is pleased to provide an update on the development of its new three-million-gallon Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant and the return of full potability to customers across Grand Bahama.
Development of the $5 million facility has entered the next phase with the arrival of the initial RO units and back up generation, and with completion of the RO columns and generator pads. Since construction began in January 2021, the GBUC team and Bahamas Hot Mix (BHM), partners for the construction and commissioning of the state-of-the-art RO plant, have been working single-mindedly on the build, which will deliver reliable, cost effective and clean water. Construction is on schedule for completion in late-August 2021, barring no Covid related shipping delays. Once commissioned, will enable the remaining 30% of the island to become potable.
“With the completion of the RO system, more of our equipment will be updated with advanced technology which includes digitized well monitoring, reserve power supply, pipe, valve and meter replacement programs, and a leak protection program,” commented Philcher Grant, Director of Operations at GBUC. “This will be a milestone achievement for GBUC, enabling us to expand our capacity as part of our modernization and long-term storm-hardening plan. We are rebuilding stronger and better.”
Remington Wilchcombe, GBUC Operations Manager, noted that, due to the extensive pre-work including surveying, environmental approvals and engineering design, the customized plan that was created for the Island’s RO facility will meet the exact requirements and specifications outlined by GBUC and the World Health Organization (WHO).
“By integrating mobility into the design for the RO plan, we are ensuring that the equipment can and will be moved in the event of a storm which will limit damage risk due to flooding or high winds,” Mr. Wilchcombe stated. “The RO facility will not only bring the entire island of Grand Bahama to full potability, but it will also meet the needs of water customers reliably for many years to come.”
The second shipment of RO units is scheduled for mid-July, and the new water plant pumping station and wellfield will be completed. The full RO system is on schedule to be tested and ready for commercial use by the late-August deadline.
Ms. Grant noted that, while 70% of the island is currently potable, the RO facility will not only enable restoration of full island water potability, but also create sustainability and contingency in the event there is another catastrophic storm like Hurricane Dorian. She stated, “We wanted to ensure reliability of fresh, potable water supply, today and in the future, and the RO system was the right solution to make that happen.”
GBUC’s $5 million capital investment followed unprecedented damage caused by Hurricane Dorian to a fresh water aquifer located at Wellfield 6 which, prior to the storm, serviced 60% of the island with high quality, abundant and reliable supply of drinking water for decades.
“Not only do we work here, but we live here too,” continued Ms. Grant. “That’s why our GBUC team has worked so tirelessly. We have experienced first-hand the same challenges as our customers. The completion of the RO system allows us to meet the potable water needs of all our customers, and ensures that Grand Bahamians will never again be without potable water for a prolonged period no matter what we endure, whether interruption to our power servers or a severe storm season.”
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