The Cabinet held an extensive discussion on the challenge of water supply that has emanated principally because of drought.
Last year, 2021, less than 18 inches of rain fell, when ordinarily an average of 39 inches of rain will fall each year.
The country is now relying 100% on desalinated reverse-osmosis water for hotels, homes, business places and institutions.
The Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) now provides more than 6.5 million gallons daily but the total demand is more than 8 million gallons daily; this shortfall has led to rationing of water (as is being done in California, a very water-rich state in the USA).
Three new reverse osmosis plants that were ordered as many as two years ago have been delayed because of the pandemic that includes shipping disruptions; the products have been paid for, along with spare parts and pipes, that have been delayed.
The Cabinet estimates that the water shortage will be overcome by September 2022, with increases in supply as the months go by.
New pipes will have to be laid in those corridors where old pipes are leaking; the process will cause a disruption in traffic and the loss of some commerce while road surfaces are being repaired.
It is also anticipated that the pipes for a sewer system in central St. John’s will also be laid at the same time in order to avoid the disruptions twice.
The coordination between APUA and the Ministry of Works will be at its best, the Ministers agreed. There are 700 miles of pipes delivering potable water in Antigua.