Election date depends on APUA improving piped-water supply, according to PM Browne

Prime Minister Gaston Browne is waiting for an adequate daily supply of pipe-borne water before he will call general elections in Antigua and Barbuda.

The water crisis seems to be one of the biggest problems the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) will have to deal with, since it campaigned on this issue eight years ago when it won the elections.

At the time, the Minister now responsible for the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA), Sir Robin Yearwood, had said that any government which could not provide this basic commodity was wicked and did not deserve to be in office.

Now, in an apparent effort to excuse the current water woes, APUA says the country’s main surface-water catchment, the Potworks Dam, is empty.

The dam’s storage capacity is approximately one billion gallons. However, APUA says that, under normal circumstances, it could distribute between 794,000 and 1.3 million gallons per day from this source.

The Authority explains that it has not been able to utilize the dam since the last major rainfall in November 2020. That water lasted until mid-2021, it says; but, since then, there has been a significant deficit in its distribution network.

APUA is now promising that, by the end of this year (2022), two additional Reverse Osmosis (RO) Plants will be added to its network. The output will then exceedthe daily demand and adequately substitute for Potworks Dam, it says.

But Prime Minister Browne – who has already given deadlines by which water will run constantly – is not happy with APUA’s timelines, especially for commissioning the RO plant in Bethesda.

Speaking on his weekly radio programme on Saturday, May 28, Browne says the freshwater sources have dried up due to climate change.

Meanwhile, the Fort James plant should come on stream by the end of June or July, Browne claims.