City tap water safe to drink

-GWI’s Water Quality Manager

The water flowing through the taps at the homes of city residents is safe to drink, according to the Head of Water Quality at Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) Deon Anderson.

“Yes, it is safe,” Anderson said when asked yesterday, following a presentation to journalists on the current quality of water being provided to the city.

Information on the quality of water, Anderson said, will be placed on GWI’s website so people can see the water treatment plants serving the various areas and monitor the water quality.

Anderson spoke about water quality in a 35-minute power point presentation at GWI’s Vlissengen Road and Church Street office, showing the water treatment process and water quality monitoring for Georgetown. Extensive, consistent testing of water distribution is done in various parts of the city, he said, to ensure the water is not only safe at the treatment plant but also when it reaches the customers’ taps. Testing is also done to ensure safety, if for any reason there is slippage within any part of the distribution system.

GWI, in a subsequent statement, said Anderson pointed out that the Georgetown Mini Laboratory operates on a 24/7 basis and testing of the water is done on an hourly basis.

It said the water distribution hours at the Shelter Belt Treatment plant has been increased from 17 hours to 24 hours supply, with an increase from 10 Pounds per Square Inch (PSI) to 20 PSI supply pressure. It added that all pump stations, such as those in Festival City, North Ruimveldt, Kingston, Turkeyen and Industry have seen an extended water supply period of 24 hours.

Addressing the Sophia Water Treatment plant, the statement said Anderson highlighted that over the last few years, the iron removal efficiency had been extremely poor, thus contributing to the supply of aesthetically unpleasant water.

“The overall average iron removal efficiency, prior to recent intervention was 24%, which was quite unsatisfactory. A number of issues were identified and interventions were made to rectify same,” it noted.

“These interventions included the optimization of the Lime Dosage and Potential of Hydrogen (pH), addition of Pall rings to Aerators and the optimization of depth of Filter Media,” it added, while highlighting that the Sophia water treatment plant is now consistently meeting the WHO required guidelines with respect to pH, turbidity, and especially iron.

The statement further said that overall plant performance has now increased from just over 24% to over 90% iron removal efficiency, hence eliminating the fear of stains and discoloration to customers’ household applications.

‘No different’

Meanwhile, addressing concerns at a media engagement yesterday that the city was being neglected in favour of rural and hinterland areas, GWI’s Managing Director Dr Richard Van West- Charles denied this. He said that emphasis was being placed on water quality and upgrading facilities but much was dependent on revenue. However, he noted that the GWI board of directors this week approved plans to add new wells to boost the current surface water sources.

Georgetown gets 60% of its water from surface sources and with new developments and a population boom expected with oil and gas production due to remigration and migration, he said GWI must be prepared. “All along there has been a focus on the city. The product should be no different from the city and the outlying communities because we are guided by WHO standards, which apply to citizens across the country,” he said.

GWI’s focus, he said, is to arrive at an equitable approach linked to the resources that it has and to cooperate with other agencies to see that communities are served in line with their development.

“We are moving to the point where water is safe to drink from the taps,” he said.

In the hinterland regions, he said, there are over 212 communities in which people rely solely on rain, creeks and rivers that are subject to the vagaries of climate change.

During a visit on Thursday to Wakapao in the Pomeroon River following calls by residents for improved water supply, he said, GWI placed six filters at the secondary schools so that the dorms and a kitchen, which cater for over 180 students, will have potable water. The nearby primary school will also benefit.

GWI held discussions with councillors and the GWI manager of Region Two- Pomeroon/Supenaam will return to have the 9,000-gallon reservoir cleaned so that residents will have a reliable supply going into the dry season.

The team also visited the nearby school at Yarasharima, which, he said, was a bit more stressed than Wakapao but they were able to discover a source of water, which will be treated so the school there gets a safe supply. The task ahead, he said, is to visit other outlying communities.

Asked about the percentage of the population accessing pipe-borne water, Director of Operations Dwayne Shako said about 85% to 90% of the areas are serviced between Region Two and Region Six, and Region Ten. The areas mainly without service are hinterland regions.

In recent years, Matthews Ridge, Mabaruma, Lethem and Mahdia have been served by GWI, Van West-Charles said.

Recently, at the Kamarang Hospital, he said, GWI installed an additional filtration system because water was going into the hospital directly from the Kamarang River without treatment.

Meanwhile, he said, GWI is to start a programme to train people in indigenous communities to build slow sand filters that would improve the quality of water they are taking from the rivers and creeks as part of its aggressive push for water quality.

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