The Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) has more infrastructure upgrades planned at various levels to reduce the number of water disruptions in the Suva-Nausori corridor.
“Understandably, there has been frustration with the disruptions, but we want to reassure everyone that we are hard at work, as quickly as we can, to alleviate these issues,” said WAF CEO, Barry Omundson.
“There are many obstacles we have to currently overcome. In addition to what we have already implemented over the last year or so, we have plans for more capacity and resilience building upgrades to our infrastructure and contingencies for when disruptions occur. Population density and climate change are major issues that we are accounting for.”
Mr Omundson said that a major reason for the increase in disruptions is due to the markedly greater demands on the current system due to the substantial growth in population from urban drift.
“Wastage of clean water is also of great concern. We see examples of wastage every single day, like people’s taps freely running from the roadside, and what we cannot see is surely worse. We need people to understand how truly harmful their actions are and to not waste water.”
“The water system was originally designed with particular population size and growth in mind but the number of people coming to the city in search of employment has exceeded these initial estimates. As a result, the system has to be very finely balanced to ensure consistent supply to all Fijians and issues like power outages, where we do not have generators or the correct sized generators have a big effect on water levels in our reservoirs.”
“Together with the Fijian Government, we had already anticipated some level of growth which we are addressing with our $270 million Rewa Water Supply Project which will provide much needed water, with a capacity to supply an additional 40 million litres a day of water to the Greater Suva Area.”
WAF has already commenced works on the project, having begun the construction of a new water intake, water treatment plant and associated pipelines to come into effect by the 3rd quarter of 2022.
“While many of these factors are beyond our control, there are certainly some aspects we can improve upon. We have taken measures to address these losses right now and over the next year we should see much improvement in this area.”
Another burden placed on the systems is because of unaccounted for water usage in the form of illegal connections and leaks.
“This places undue pressure on our systems to deliver water to our customers. We are doing our best to mitigate this and the Authority is working very hard to reduce this unaccounted for water and have deployed teams to undertake regular inspections of assets to ensure they are operating as they should.”
Another measure that WAF has taken towards increasing its resilience and reducing its vulnerability to factors like fluctuating power supply right across its operations, is the procurement of suitable replacement standby Generators.
In the interim, WAF is putting arrangements in place with a local supplier to hire a suitability sized generator for the critical Khalsa Pump Station until such time the permanent generator can be purchased and installed. The same is also being done to improve the reliability of Tovata Reservoir’s pumping station.
“The changes we are implementing will not happen overnight, and as such, we advise our customers to incorporate supplementary storage into their household systems while we work on improving our services,” said Mr Omundson.
“We want to reassure everyone that when there is a disruption, we have teams working tirelessly and doing whatever it takes, many giving up their nights and weekends.”
“Every single night we have staff out operating valves to throttle supply and fill reservoirs so that as many Fijians as possible wake up with water to their taps.”
Mr Omundson also said that automation of a number of critical valves in the Suva – Nausori system during the course of this year will see a more consistent supply to customers and fewer pressure fluctuations leading to fewer burst pipes.
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.