Despite Rain, Water Situation Remains Critical

Residents Urged to Conserve Water  

Rain showers over the weekend have not lessened the possibility of a partial domestic water shutdown on St Helena, as stored water levels remain exceptionally low.  

Though helpful, the weekend rain – plus the use of bowsers to transport raw water from Jamestown to the Redhill Treatment Plant – has only extended stored water reserves at Red Hill by a few days.  This rainfall, though not raising levels of water in the Harpers reservoirs, has usefully ‘wet’ the ground (meaning that we should see a better return if the showers continue).

 This means that we have only approximately 8 days’ supply in the affected areas. 

But consumption from the Redhill Treatment Plant has reduced (stabilising at about 240 cubic metres per day at the weekend, compared with the previous average of around 400 cubic metres) and we thank the public for stretching this precious resource.

The long term weather forecast from Ascension Island indicates only light, intermittent rainfall over the next couple of months, which is not sufficient to reverse the current problem.  So the Contingency Planning Group (CPG) has been mobilising physical resources over the weekend in anticipation of a possible shutdown of domestic water in:  Half Tree Hollow, Cowpath, Ladder Hill, Red Hill, Sapper Way, New Ground, Clay Gut, Pounceys, Kunjie Field, Scotland, Plantation, Cleughs Plain, Rosemary Plain, Francis Plain, Crack Plain and Guinea Grass.

This weekend work included intensive use of SHG bowsers and trucks to transport tanked, raw water from Jamestown directly to the Redhill Plant for treatment – to bolster supplies.  This week, two bowsers from Basil Read will transport additional raw water to the plant from Grapevine Gut.  These combined efforts can add up to 200 cubic metres of water each day.

Commenting on the weekend’s work, Roads Manager Dave Malpas said: “I am extremely grateful to Roads Section staff who have worked tirelessly transporting water. On Friday and Saturday, the team used four vehicles with total capacity of 13m3 to move nearly 100m3 of water from Jamestown to the Redhill treatment works. Having now addressed a few teething problems – and my thanks go to the Fire Service and Basil Read for their help – we hope to be moving in the region of 70m3 a day for the foreseeable future. Finally, I would like to ask the public for their continued co-operation with the bowser and fire tender drivers on Ladder Hill and when loading in Upper Jamestown.”

The contingency plan would also see public water tanks at key locations in the affected areas, plus other public sources (for example, in Jamestown) to ensure that the public can access the water they need.  

A Control Centre, which will be manned during the day, evenings and weekends, is now in place and ready, should shutdown go ahead.  Any reports of water wastage will be investigated by the Police. 

Notes to Editors:

We continue to urge all residents – particularly those served by the Red Hill Treatment Plant – to do all they can to use less water.  A leaflet – Your Top Ten Tips to Saving Water – is now available in local shops (see below for outlets).

Press Briefings will now take place each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at 2pm in the Council Chamber.

Reusing Plastic (PET) Water Bottles

Some erroneous information on the re-use of plastic (PET) water bottles has recently appeared in the media and elsewhere.  The following is drawn from Cancer Research UK:

‘What do the claims about plastics involve?

‘A group of hoax emails have been doing the rounds for a few years warning about the so-called dangers of plastic bottles. The emails generally warn people about one or more of the following:  reusing water bottles, freezing water in plastic bottles or leaving plastic bottles in cars.

‘There is no convincing scientific evidence to back up these claims or to suggest that any of these products could cause cancer.

3 May 2013


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