Citizens can expect their daily water supply to be reduced significantly soon as the Water and Sewage Authority, in response to record low levels at its reservoirs across the country, plans to ration its supply nationwide.
This was the word from WASA CEO Alan Poon King as he toured the Arena Reservoir in San Rafael to update the media on the issues the authority was facing due to the lower than normal rainfall levels so far this year.
“In cases where customers may be accustomed to 24/7 supply, that may be down to five days a week and five to three and so on. We amend as required,” Poon King said.
According to Poon King, all four reservoirs across the country have been operating at a deficit amounting to 25 million gallons a day. He said WASA depends on the Trinidad and Tobago Metrological Service for rainfall projections but in the last 16 days its forecasts had not come to pass.
“For the month of July we have been producing around 215 million gallons a day and whereas ideally, we want to be between 240 or 243 gallons a day,” Poon King said.
At the Arena Reservoir, which supports the Caroni Water Treatment Plant and stores 10 billion gallons, Poon King admitted that capacity was the lowest he had ever seen it. He said the last time it was that low ten years ago and the last time it was at capacity was in 2018.
At this stage of the year, Poon King said the Hollis, Caroni Arena, Navet and Hillsborough reservoirs should be at 50 to 60 per cent capacity but currently they are all significantly below, with Hollis at 15 per cent and Hillsborough at 40 per cent.
“Roughly 18 months that we’ve had not normal rainfall has resulted in all the storage levels at our reservoirs…being significantly depleted,” Poon King said.
However, he said the authority has a goal and plans to have all four reservoirs at capacity by December 31, 2020. But in order to accomplish this, water production will be reduced.
“At the Caroni Water Treatment Plant we are doing 50 million gallons a day as compared to a capacity of 75 million gallons a day,” he explained.
He said whatever volume of storage is realised through rainfall, WASA will compensate accordingly.
Poon King said WASA had also stopped its disconnection drive because of the COVID-19 pandemic but said patrols to identify errant customers who use hoses during the current restrictions in force are underway. He said the fee for those found guilty of this breach is $75.
The CEO said WASA is currently owed $800 million in arrears by customers, adding this is an area they will also have to work on.
“We do need to collect rates to provide the service we need to,” Poon King said.