Fresh problems hit New Amsterdam water supply project By Daniel DaCosta
Stabroek News
January 11, 2002

Twelve years after the New Amsterdam water supply project was launched with expectations of treated water reaching the upper flats of homes, the multi-million dollar project still faces equipment shortages and distribution problems. Over recent weeks scores of consumers particularly in the outskirts of the town have been experiencing low pressure and in some cases little or no water.

The first phase of the project commenced in 1989 and involved the construction of a water treatment plant with a capacity of 2.1 million gallons per day. It was completed n August 1992 at a cost of $166.9 million. The second phase began in March 1995 and was completed in 1997 at a cost of approximately $800 million. This phase involved the installation of a 14.3 km ductile iron ring main and a 110,200-gallon storage tank. The third and final phase began in December 1999 and was scheduled to be completed n November 2000. It entailed the installation of 4,700 service connections, fifty-three fire hydrants and the laying of some 72,000 metres of pipelines as part of a secondary distribution network. However, the $265 million contract which was awarded to Southern Exploration and Construction Company of Trinidad and Tobago was terminated in June last after the contractor failed to complete the project by June 8, despite two extensions.

Japarts, a city firm was awarded the contract to complete the laying of pipelines along Pitt street (west) and Matthew Allen (stelling) road which was recently completed. The completion of the third and final phase of the project funded by the European Union (EU) and the government of Guyana however left hundreds of New Amsterdamers in the Mount Sinai (east) area without water. In the meantime scores of consumers in the West Canje area just outside the township were connected to the plant even though residents at Glasgow which falls under the municipality are still awaiting to be supplied.

Another contract has since been awarded to Japarts to install distribution lines in the Mount Sinai (east) area. One phase of the contract which involved linking Smythfield (east) to Patrick Dam in Mount Sinai has been completed. This has only resulted in a marginal improvement in supply to consumers in this block. The second phase of this contract will entail the installation of four-inch lines in the adjoining blocks. However, the completion of these projects will not see much improvement in the present standpipe level supply. At the moment consumers in the West Canje area who were recently hooked up to the plant are not receiving any water.

A GUYWA source told Stabroek News that problems were encountered two weeks ago with the booster pump at the plant resulting in a decrease in pressure. Plans, he said, were afoot to supply the West Canje area with water via a tender three times per week. However, the overall level of pressure is not expected to improve until three additional booster pumps are installed at the plant. However, there are no indications of when the pumps will be available since the acquisition process is now at the bidding stage. According to the source a new well pump has also been ordered for the plant's second bore hole.

"Source and flow are not problems", the source said "however, head remains a problem and for this to reach the required 4.5 bars the booster pumps are required". According to the source GUYWA intends to supply residents in Glasgow and eventually Kortberaad on the East Bank of Berbice. "The plant" he said "has the capacity to supply not only New Amsterdamers but consumers in nearby areas". Some knowledgeable sources however argue that the plant would be unable to supply the expanded consumer base at levels above the present standpipe level. Improved levels they say would only be realised with the installation of booster pumps at strategic locations along the main distribution ring.

Meanwhile, repairs to the 110,220-gallon overhead storage tank which developed a major leak last year is expected to be completed by the end of next month. Several streets and their junctions have been reinstated by the Ministry of Works and a local private contractor much to the satisfaction of New Amsterdamers. The streets and their junctions were damaged during the third phase of the New Amsterdam water supply project and sparked widespread criticisms from angry citizens. With the dawn of a New Year, New Amsterdamers are again hopeful that this problem-plagued project will finally be completed and they may someday soon receive water in their upper flats as promised some twelve years ago.