Grand Bahama
Grand Bahama Utility Company Wellfields Inundated from Dorian Surge
By Grand Bahama Port Authority
Oct 23, 2019 - 10:10:58 AM

Geron Turnquest, General Manager of the Grand Bahama Utilities Company addresses the media during a press conference to provide updates on the restoration of water services on Grand Bahama post-Hurricane Dorian. (Photo courtesy of GBPA)

Freeport, Bahamas – Freeport, Bahamas – It is now six weeks since Dorian’s passage through The Bahamas and the Grand Bahama Utility Company (GBUC), a subsidiary of Port Group Ltd (PGL) continues to work unflaggingly to fully restore its water services to residents across the Island.

Hurricane Dorian caused catastrophic damage, inundating over 90 percent of GBUC’s wellfields with seawater. “Our groundwater reserves were severely impacted and intruded with salinity,” said GeronTurnquest General Manager GBUC.  “Over the last few weeks we have assessed our wellfields, and we now have the data to make decisions and implement immediate actions that will help in the recovery of our potable water supply.”

GB Ultities Engineering Manager Remington Wilchcombe led a team supported by the Island’s industrial companies, to break down and clean the flooded machinery within the company's well fields. In just over a week, the company saw the successful restoration of the Island’s water supply for sanitary needs. He is pictured providing an update to Our News during their recent visit to Grand Bahama Island. (Photo courtesy of GBPA)

Immediately following the storm, restoration of the Island’s water supply for sanitary needs such as bathing and toilet flushing topped the utility company’s list of priorities. Within a week, the utility’s well field #1 which had also suffered severe flooding, resumed water production. Specialty teams, led by GBUC’s Engineering Manager Remington Wilchcombe and supported by the Island’s industrial companies, were able to break down, reassemble and clean the flooded machinery, getting pumps back up and running.

“While we were able to get the plant operational,” noted Wilchcombe, “the water contains total dissolved solids (TDS) in terms of salt concentration that exceed the World Health Organization standards and therefore is not suitable for drinking at the present time.

GB Utility Servicemen Laqueint Sawyer and Rodriquez Russell are pictured hard at work in the company's wellfields. The GB Utility Company is focusing its efforts on the full restoration of water services across the island of Grand Bahama. (Photo courtesy of GBPA)

“We are pursuing alternative solutions to decrease salinity in the water supply, but the recovery time for bringing our water back to pre-storm sweetness depends on the amount of rainfall that we receive in the next few weeks,” he explained. “We have observed that the levels of salinity are naturally dropping, but rainfall will significantly accelerate the restoration process.”

To-date the GBUC has restored 60% of their wellfields and are providing water to 90% of customers, with the exception of two of the utility’s three remote water plants in East Grand Bahama. The next goal is to provide pure freshwater to some of the major industrials that have been using their own RO services in order to prioritize the provision of water to residents first.

“Our water fields and our water plants have never seen this extent of damage,” noted GBPA’s Acting Chairman Sarah St. George. “I must thank our Island’s leading industrials who had our back after the storm. Communications were scant but the Grand Bahama Shipyard, BIT, the Grand Bahama Power Company, Polymers, and Bahama Rock all pitched in to help.”

For more information and updates on public distribution sites for drinking water, residents are asked to visit the GBPA social media pages. “We will keep everyone updated on our efforts to resume normal services,” added Turnquest. “We are working around the clock to make this happen, and happen as quickly as humanly possible.

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