With the cyclone season upon us, which is expected to bring in more rain and stormy weather, the Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) would like to answer some frequently asked questions that are being raised by our valued customers on how this will affect their water supply.
𝐐: 𝐇𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐜𝐮𝐫𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐜𝐲𝐜𝐥𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐬𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐜𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐬?
A: According to reports, we should expect more cyclones to form, which is likely to lead to water disruptions. Even when there isn’t a cyclone, adverse weather such as low-pressure troughs can cause heavy and persistent rainfall, which negatively impacts our water supply systems.
𝐐: 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐞𝐱𝐚𝐜𝐭𝐥𝐲 𝐜𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐬𝐞 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐫𝐮𝐩𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬?
A: Cyclones, and accompanying heavy rainfall cause disruptions for several reasons, as listed below:
– Heavy rainfall creates floods, which carry with it large amounts of debris of varying sizes and densities.
This debris can create blockages at the raw water intakes which disrupt operations, as less water is able to enter our treatment plants. With less raw water entering the treatment plants, less treated water is available, leading to low reservoir levels – which eventually leads to little to no water being available for supply to our customers.
– Heavy rain and flooding also increase the level of turbidity (dirt in the water) since rainwater washes soil and sediment into the raw water sources and floodwaters carry in more dirt with them as they move.
As a health and safety measure, the inflow of raw water into the treatment plant has to be reduced, to ensure that there is proper settling time before treatment can begin, so that water quality can be maintained at a level that is suitable for consumption by humans. Due to the reduced inflow, less water is produced, which in turn affects reservoir levels.
– Cleaning heavily turbid water also has an impact on our filtration system, which quickly gets clogged with the dirt found in the raw water. These filters need to go through a backwashing process in order to ensure that they are clean enough to continue doing what they need to do.
Any attempt to try and process high turbidity water in larger volumes could also damage our equipment and result in far longer and extended disruptions.
– Cyclones include substantial damage to our infrastructure, as a result of debris, or access to our infrastructure for repair and restoration works being denied, as a result of damaged roads or floods.
𝐐: 𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐚𝐫𝐞𝐧’𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐝𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐪𝐮𝐢𝐜𝐤𝐥𝐲?
A: It is important to remember that cyclones and flooding create hazardous circumstances, delaying repairs as our teams have no choice but to wait it out until it is less of a risk to their health and safety.
Once it is safe enough, our teams are quick to move to conduct the necessary repairs and operations. These repairs and operations themselves can be time-consuming, such as the backwashing process, and water supply can only be restored once the necessary measures to make the water safe for human consumption has been completed.
𝐐: 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐬𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐈 𝐝𝐨 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐞?
A: Our main advice is to prepare as early as possible. While you still have water available, make sure to collect and store as much water as possible for use by your family, for at least 2 to 3 days, or 5 to 7 days during severe cyclone conditions.
Additionally, we encourage our customers to invest in storage containers or water tanks connected to the water system for storage and backup supply during any unplanned disruption that may arise due to emergency works or natural disasters.
While our technicians will be out there doing their best to rectify issues, as and when they happen, a great deal of care is taken to ensure that they are able to do their work safely – your personal storage of water is meant to see you through during those times when restoration works are in the process.
We also ask for your patience and understanding during disruptions. Our goal is always to restore your supply within the shortest possible time frame, and your consideration is greatly appreciated by our hard-working teams.
For further enquiries, customers can call 3346777 and 5777 (Vodafone, Digicel & Inkk users) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.