The Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) is warning that due to the worsening weather conditions and heavy rainfall currently being experienced around the country, Fijians need to be prepared for upcoming water disruptions.
“A common misconception seems to be that since there is so much rain, there should be no disruptions as there is bountiful water. Yes, there is much water, however heavy and extensive rain for an extended period will disrupt the production and supply of water,” said WAF CEO, Barry Omundson.
“With 3 tropical lows or depressions close by, all of Fiji will experience heavy and prolonged rain. While we will do our best to carry out repair works and restore the water supply as soon as possible, everyone in Fiji will also experience some form of water disruption for some period of time, depending on the severity of the issue.”
Mr Omundson said that the extensive rainfall in the Northern Division has already had a negative impact, causing blockages which disrupts the intake, leading to low reservoir levels and, subsequently, no water.
“A blocked intake means no water coming to our treatment plant and means no water in the reservoirs that feed our customers water supply. The heavy rain further compounds this issue, for example, heavy rains in the north lead to flooding which affects our ability to attend to blocked intakes. ”
“Excessive rain also increases raw water turbidity, which is affecting our production volume and we are now seeing similar issues in the Central-Eastern Division and the Western Division. In the Suva-Nausori area, heavy and prolonged rain has led to highly discolored and turbid water.”
Turbidity is essentially a measure of the dirt in water and once this dirty water reaches WAF’s water treatment plants, which are already operating above capacity to cater for the daily demand, the Authority is forced to undertake extensive backwashing of its filters.
“Backwashing by its very nature reduces the amount of water produced, resulting in less water to our reservoirs and customers. This is made worse when those same filters cannot be successfully backwashed because they become too clogged. We are then forced to take our water filters offline to clean them so as to ensure the quality of water supplied to customers.”
“Again the result is less water produced, and less water into what is already a very keenly balanced supply and demand system. This eventually means water disruptions to thousands.”
Mr Omundson said that WAF has already initiated action to resolve these ongoing issues, including treatment plant upgrades and the $270 million Rewa Water Project to supplement the supply of water to the Suva Nausori region by an additional 40 million litres of water per day, however, these solutions will not occur until next year.
‘In the meantime, we ask all Fijians to store water to last them during the disruption periods, particularly now when we are experiencing or about to experience extensive heavy rain and to boil all drinking water.”
WAF advises customers to conserve and always store sufficient amounts of water to last for at least two to three days in their homes at all times. Customers are also encouraged 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.