STATEMENT BY HONOURABLE KYE M. RYMER
MINISTER FOR TRANSPORTATION, WORKS AND UTILITIES
AND FIFTH DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVE
AT THE SEVENTH SITTING OF THE THIRD SESSION OF THE FOURTH HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY
THURSDAY 15TH APRIL 2021
PROGRESS OF MINISTRY’S PROJECTS
Mister Speaker, I rise to provide an update to this Honourable House and the citizenry of this Territory on important infrastructure projects affecting the entire Territory.
The water infrastructure is aged and dilapidated, and as a result, frequent repairs of leaks and water line breakages, have become the daily demands of the Water & Sewerage Department. Thus, with the support of the Ministry, the Water & Sewerage Department has emphasized improving and enhancing the water distribution networks.
Mister Speaker, noting this critical resource, the Ministry of Transportation Works and Utilities has been working tirelessly to improve the Territory's water storage and distribution capacity. The improvement works include reducing pressure with Pressure Reducing Valves, leak detection exercises, leak repairs with resilient materials, installation of air-release valves, and meterization.
Mister Speaker, I need to iterate that the Territory does not have a water production problem. We are producing more than enough potable water to supply the entire population. Our challenges lay in the storage capacities and the distribution networks.
Mister Speaker, execution of these water improvement projects, of course, have not been spared from setbacks credited to the pandemic, Covid-19, which has caused financial challenges and time delays.
Notwithstanding the times' inevitable challenges, we have been making steady strides to upgrade the water network distribution system. Specifically, the installation of new water reservoirs in the Long Bush and Carrot Bay communities. These tanks have been substantially completed, and the Recovery and Development Agency, which is the executing agency, is in collaboration with the Ministry, is in final preparations for the Carrot Bay Reservoir's handover ceremony, which is slated for the week of 26th April 2021.
In the Road Town area, works continue to progress to commission the Long Bush Reservoir. This has caused many inconveniences to residents, to businesses, and motorists. During the latter part of last month, the contractor commenced installing District Metered Area, DMAs- bulk meters. As these meters enable hydraulic isolation and complete water usage recording in sections of the general network, and we will have better water usage accountability by communities. We will further provide more precise data in executing efficient leak detention exercises. This phase of the water improvement project will also help us to reduce the amount of non-revenue water.
Mister Speaker, please allow me this opportunity to extend sincere apologies for the frequent water interruptions and traffic disruptions during this time. These inconveniences are necessary though, to facilitate the works to progress to a more reliable and efficient water supply.
The nature of works surrounding the meter project required some level of excavation along the public road to expose the water distribution mains at strategic locations, facilitating the installation of fifteen (15) 4'x4' concrete chambers, which house the bulk meters and other necessary components underground. Coupled with the installation of these bulk meters, this project will also yield the installation of more than 200 digital meters throughout the Road Town area in Huntum's Ghut, Long Bush, Lower Estate, and Main Street.
Mister Speaker, I am cognizant that many other communities have also experienced very frequent and frustrating water interruptions that last for lengthy periods. I ask for your continued patience and understanding as the team works to identify and rectify the contributing factors that affect the water supply or distribution. These are problems this Administration has met and, unfortunately, are not quick overnight fixes. However, we continue to pledge to rectify and improve the Territory's water distribution, thereby ensuring that potable water is accessible to all citizens.
The lack of available water and long-term sustainable use of water resources is of growing concern to the farmers and also to this Ministry of Transportation, Works & Utilities, and likewise that of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries & Agriculture.
On average, Mister Speaker, Agriculture at Paraquita Bay currently accounts for 150 gallons per minute (GPM) or over 300,000 gallons of water being withdrawn from our distribution network in the span of just four (4) hours. And might I add that water use or demand is also expected to increase from other programs that irrigate food production in the area in the near future.
Mister Speaker, my Ministry continues to implement several programs to improve the availability of water to the farmers at Paraquita Bay. In May last year, the Water & Sewerage Department technicians retrofitted a pump station in a holding tank at the existing Paraquita Bay Treatment Plant to provide a storage point and buffer or period of continued supply whenever there is a disruption in our current distribution from breaks and leaks.
Additionally, a couple of weeks ago, Mister Speaker, my Ministry through the Department of Water & Sewerage, provided an alternative means of distributing water into Paraquita Bay by installing over Three Thousand (3,000) feet of pipelines over a rigorous terrain from the top of Spring Ghut. For this to happen, Mister Speaker, I must commend the staff at Water & Sewerage as they worked tirelessly and, in the progress, had to endure many challenges. Some got stung from Jack Spaniards, some got cuts, bumps, and bruises and others had to avoid snakes and all sorts of hazards.
Mister Speaker, it was a challenging job, yet the Water and Sewerage Department staff made the sacrifice and remained committed to the cause of improving the availability of water for food security which is a true benefit to all of us here in the Virgin Islands. Mister Speaker, I ask that we highly commend the staff at Water & Sewerage Department for the work they continue to do on behalf of this Government and the Territory as a whole.
Mister Speaker, this is not all, as we are now embarking on another project in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries & Agriculture to further improve water availability to the Farmers. A couple days ago, you might have noticed the staff of Water & Sewerage at it again in Paraquita Bay.
This time Mister Speaker, they are upgrading specific existing segments of the main distribution pipelines that are pretty much past their useful life and suspected of having leaks which may be contributing to low pressure or no water pressure to some farm lots at higher elevations.
Mister Speaker, the Water & Sewerage Team, will also be installing a pump in one of the wells by H.L. Stoutt Community College and recommissioning it to provide yet another alternative source for improved availability of water to the farmers at Paraquita Bay.
When it's all said and done, Mister Speaker, this Government, along with my Ministry and that of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries & Agriculture would have established multiple sources from which to juggle to ensure improved availability of water for improved food and agricultural production and security.
Mister Speaker, the work continues, for the people of this Territory. I would like to end by reassuring the people of the Virgin Islands that we will continue to be committed to investing in improving our water infrastructure and building the Territory's capacity for resilience and sustainability in these ever-changing times.
And Mister Speaker as I speak about the water situation I also acknowledge our brothers and sisters in St. Vincent at this time Mister Speaker. And I want to let those persons know that this Government has committed to providing water as that is a critical need to them at this time. And Mister Speaker I have reached out to some of the truck owners in the Territory, and they have committed that they will provide water, that they will take their trucks down to St. Vincent once there is available space on the barge, so that we can also provide water, to the citizens of St. Vincent.
So Mister Speaker, with those few words I say thank you, for allowing me this opportunity.