New water plant arrives and restrictions end, AquaGib confirms
A new temporary reverse osmosis plant has arrived in Gibraltar, AquaGib has confirmed, with the nightly water restrictions ended.
The water shortages followed a fire in Power’s Drive Tunnel which affected AquaGib’s pipes to its Governor’s Cottage reserve osmosis (RO) plant.
After days of shortages and temporary pipes fitted, AquaGib announced the reverse osmosis plant was delivered by land from Italy in partnership with Balaena, the new owners of Gibdock, “who came forward and offered their immediate support in using their extensive logistics network to assist Gibraltar in its time of need.”
“This temporary plant will allow us to continue building stock levels at the Waterworks reservoirs at a faster rate than we were previously able and will provide additional resilience of supply,” AquaGib said.
“At this time of the year when consumption is so high, recovery from the impact on stock levels following the fire at Powers Drive would be slow, so AquaGib have moved quickly with Balaena to add production capacity to speed up the recovery period.”
“The RO plant is able to produce 1 million litres of potable water a day, which will release a considerable amount of pressure from the current four RO units in the Governors Cottage site, which have been working at 100% capacity since Friday 5th August.”
AquaGib said the RO plant has been rented on a temporary basis and will provide additional capacity until the new permanent RO is installed later this year, as was planned prior to this issue arising.
“A lot of work has been done by our personnel to procure the new RO plant from Italy and prepare our site to be able to integrate it into our system,” Managing Director of AquaGib, Paul Singleton, said.
“I am most grateful to the team at Balaena for coming forward to Government and offering their support. The work completed by the team is impressive in such a short period of time. It is still important to be sensible in our water consumption whilst we continue to build up stock, but this RO plant gives us an extra security with the additional capacity being produced whilst we build our stock levels.”
Areas in Upper Town have been without water in recent days after potable water supplies were disconnected for emergency works when bacteria was found during testing.
AquaGib said it expected the water supply to be reconnected as from midnight on Wednesday.
Those areas without water included: Bruce’s Gully, Castle Steps, Danino’s Ramp, Paradise Ramp, Richardson’s Passage, Tank Ramp, Willis’s Passage and Willis’s Road.
“Please be advised that following on from the repairs being undertaken and as part of our standard operating procedures tests undertaken on the isolated main have shown bacteria being present,” AquaGib said.
“We have therefore isolated the mains and are working to provide temporary supply from other parts of the network which we envisage will be completed during the course of the day.”
“Some areas will notice supply resumed earlier than others as the process of finding alternative supply routes is undertaken. We aim to have all areas being supplied by midnight.”
AquaGib said a bowser and a pallet of bottled water have been supplied to the area throughout the stoppage.
“Please rest assured that the health and safety of our customers is our utmost concern,” AquaGib said.
“Therefore, the supply will only be resumed using the isolated pipe once the water has been confirmed as being up to our high-quality standards.”
“AquaGib apologises for any inconvenience caused, however these works are necessary to ensure that we continue to provide our customers with the best possible service.”
The Gibraltar Government announced the end of nightly water restrictions on Wednesday.
“The combination of more responsible use of water by the community, importation of water from Spain and now full production of water from all of our Reverse Osmosis (RO) plants means we are able to restore normal usage of water to our community without restriction for our domestic users,” the Government said.
It added that it will review the matter further later this week “with the expectation that businesses will also have water returned to them in the coming days.”
“I am pleased we have been able to get stock levels back up to enable us to resume service to our community in this short period of time,” the Minister for Public Utilities, Albert Isola, said.
“We will continue to work on increasing stocks with additional production to ensure we have resilience over the summer period.”
“My thanks to all who have worked to enable us to resume normal service. It really has been a huge effort.”
Chief Minister Fabian Picardo added: “This disaster has brought together every part of our infrastructure who have teamed up to take on and beat this challenge in record speed.”
“The Fire and Rescue Service, the GEA, AquaGib, the Technical Services Team, our Contractors, Public Health, The Environmental Agency, the Ministry of Defence - everyone coming together to work around the consequences of the fire.”
“My sincere thanks to all, and to the people of Gibraltar for their responsible use of water during this testing time. It has been a real team effort and I am delighted that we are today removing all restrictions for our domestic users.”