Statement by the Ministry of Communications and Works
14th September 2023
Sargassum Seaweed Causes Water Interruption on Virgin Gorda
The Ministry of Communications and Works was advised that the Sargassum Seaweed at Handsome Bay inhibited the operation of the water production of the Desalination Plant. In turn, the distribution of water was disrupted to customers in the Valley, Virgin Gorda.
The Handsome Bay Water Plant Company, Aqua Design, advised that due to the overwhelming amount of Sargassum Seaweed, the pre-filtration system of the open sea intake was inundated and partially blocked, minimising the amount of seawater that could be processed. As such, plant production had to be reduced to maintain adequate pressure to the equipment. Failure to maintain over 30 psi to the equipment could result in catastrophic equipment failure.
The Ministry was further advised by Aqua Design that the change in tide over the weekend shifted the Sargassum Seaweed, allowing for increased plant production. Plant operators will continue to monitor the intake condition and make the necessary adjustments while the long-term solution will be implemented within the upcoming months. It was also stated that at this point, water production has resumed to normal operations.
The Ministry of Communications and Works and multiple stakeholders are working together to try and alleviate this water supply challenge.
The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change, responsible for overseeing environmental protection and climate change, is embarking on developing sustainable solutions to prevent further seaweed infiltration into the system at Handsome Bay.
The Ministry sincerely apologises for the inconvenience caused by the reduced water supply and assures the residents that efforts are being made to address the issue to minimise reoccurrences and develop long-term solutions.