The provision of potable water to Long Island will offer relief for the “severe hardship” that residents there have endured for many years. The Bahamas Government signed a $5.3 million contract Thursday, May 10, 2018, with BHM Company Limited for the installation of 100,000 feet of pipe in north and south Long Island. Adrian Gibson, executive chairman, Water, and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) and MP for Long Island led a delegation to the island for the ceremony held at Regatta Site, Salt Pond. In attendance were WSC board members and staff including Elwood Donaldson, Acting General Manager; Cyprian Gibson, Assistant General Manager; and Leslie Hutchinson, Senior Engineer/Project Coordinator. Also witnessing the signing was a cross-section of residents including primary school students. Mr. Gibson described the event as “historic” for residents who have “suffered” for far too long without a reliable, potable water supply. “Many Long Islanders are served via tanker or forced to rely on groundwater supplies where the quality of the water is questionable and the reliability of the supply is adversely affected during hurricanes due to power failures and storm surges that bring the seawater inland, directly contaminating the freshwater aquifer,” he said.
A native of Long Island, Mr. Gibson shared his familiarity with drawing and toting water from wells having been raised without piped water, and bathing in water that left a white residue on the skin. Phase one includes the delivery of two new water tankers, which will service 100 connections extending from Salt Pond to Gray’s. One of the tankers was damaged in 2017 and has since been replaced. The second of the three-phase contract will provide service for 100 service connections from Turtle Cove in Stevens to the end of Clarence Town. BHM will hold an open house on June 12 in Long Island with a view to hiring Long Islanders for positions including machine operators. Work is expected to begin in six weeks and take 12 months to complete. Mr. Gibson challenged the contractors, notably Ebbe Saidi, managing director, and Paul Huckle, to hire and involve as many Long Islanders as possible. He said Long Island has industrious, talented and capable persons who possess the skill sets and are willing to work hard to improve their island: “I encourage you to patronize local vendors to satisfy the needs of your project, including lodging, food, and building supplies, etc. This is a high-value contract and we expect the benefits to be felt in the local community,” he said.
The third phase, which will increase the number of customers connected to this system from approximately 80 to over 255, will be implemented through a contract to extend the water supply system to other areas of Long Island including but not limited to the following settlements: northward, through the settlements of Deal’s, Bunches and Millerton and southward, through Morris and Wemyss, including all side streets from Millerton to Wemyss with occupied homes and businesses. A doubling of the capacity of the existing Simms desalination plant and a substantial increase in storage will be the result. Moreover, the Chairman informed that prior to or following the annual June regatta the WSC will embark on a Non-Revenue Water Project to reduce the amount of leakage on the Central Long Island system. Funding options including public-private-partnerships will be sought. “The Corporation has successfully completed the installation of a (100%) standby power generator in Simms to ensure that in the event of a power failure there will be no interruption in water production/supply to these customers. A similar system is already in place at our Deadman’s Cay Plant. This standby power generator has already been commissioned, well in advance of the 2018 Hurricane Season. The disruptions to the Simms Water Supply System would become a thing of the past,” he said. Further, he noted that estimates and preliminary designs have been prepared to supply piped potable water for the resort communities of Cape Santa Maria and Stella Maris. He said the future sustainability of the resorts depends on the ability to provide world-class utilities and services to the present and future homeowners of the communities. He assured the residents that he will not rest until there is a “sustainable” means of providing potable water to each home and business in Long Island.