(RCN) The Honourable Juliana O’Connor Connolly made an official visit to the Water Authority. The statutory authority falls under Ms. O’Connor-Connolly’s area of responsibility as the Minister for District Administration and Lands (DAL). Embarking on a re-familiarization tour of the Water Authority’s five facilities on Grand Cayman, Minister O’Connor-Connolly was also joined by the newly appointed, Acting Chief Officer of DAL, Mr. Wilbur Welcome.
“With each opportunity that I am given the honor to serve as Minister, the Water Authority is one area of responsibility I tend to request. I am extremely proud of the work of their highly competent staff. They have proven themselves to be visionaries—always planning for the future. Throughout every natural disaster, our community is assured that the Water Authority will be up and running within a reasonable time. More importantly, clean water is a natural resource and precious commodity that we must ensure safe access to for future generations. So as we continue to nation-build and work towards sustainability, I am happy to retain this area of responsibility and to give the Water Authority any support this Government can offer, “shared Minister O’Connor-Connolly.
The tour was led by the Director of Water Authority, Dr. Gelia Frederick van-Genderen who met the Minister’s delegation at their first stop at the Water Authority’s head offices on Red Gate Road in George Town. The Red Gate facility houses the customer service and payment center, an accredited laboratory, and various departments/units, including engineering, operations, and human resources.
From the headquarters, the tour moved on to the North Side Water Works facility where the Deputy Director, Tom van Zanten, provided an overview of all site activities and introduced the operations staff. Senior Engineer Manager, Carlos Vargas gave an in-depth explanation about how water is treated. The Authority has five reservoir plants – four in Grand Cayman and one in Cayman Brac.
“Using a process of desalination called reverse osmosis (RO), the Water Authority converts saline groundwater into the clean, safe, potable water that runs from your tap. The water produced through this process is checked for quality and safety then stored in one of the Authority’s ten reservoirs before being pumped to you through our distribution pipeline networks,” explained Mr. Vargas.
The tour continued to the East End Reservoir Site and Wellfield where fresh groundwater is pumped from 10 wells into a 330 m3 (or 80,000 US gallon) reservoir before being sold to trucking companies.
The tour came to a close at the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) stop, where the wastewater is treated. The sewerage system is gravity-fed and uses lift stations to raise the sewage to the next gradient. Approximately 20% of the island’s wastewater is processed through the WWTP; the other 80% is treated via septic tanks and ATUs. The Authority operates the West Bay Beach Sewerage System, which is connected to the WWTP.
The delegation made a stop at the Tarpon Springs Quarry in Breakers. Under the Water Authority Law, the excavation of a quarry requires a permit from the Authority. The Tarpon Spring Quarry is one of the commercial quarries digging to a 50ft depth. Traditionally quarries dig at a much shallower depth. It was included in the tour to highlight the magnitude and complexities of this type of work.
“It was a pleasure to have the Minister visit the Water Authority. It was an opportunity to highlight progress made on various projects and initiatives. The Authority’s staff also welcomed the chance to interact with the Minister directly and share more about their work to help meet the Authority’s mission of providing the community with potable water and safely managed wastewater.” – Dr. Gelia Frederick van-Genderen.