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WATER DISRUPTIONS EXPECTED DUE TO HEAVY RAINS.

The Water Authority of Fiji (WAF) would like to warn its valued customers that due to the worsening weather conditions and heavy rainfall currently being experienced around the country, Fijians will need to be prepared for upcoming water disruptions.

This comes after the recent weather report released by the Fiji Meteorological Office on Wednesday, 15 December, 2021, which stated that the Heavy Rain Alert issued yesterday afternoon (Tuesday, 14 December, 2021) still remains in force for the Western, Northern and Interior parts of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, Kadavu, Yasawa and Mamanuca Group.

“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 Chief Operating Officer, Seru Soderberg.

“With tropical cyclones predicted for the 2021-2022 Cyclone Season, all of Fiji will experience heavy and prolonged rain and 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 Soderberg added that the extensive rainfall can have a negative impact on water supply systems, causing blockages that will disrupt the operations at water intakes, leading to low reservoir levels and, subsequently, no water.

“A blocked intake means no water coming into our treatment plant which means no water in the reservoirs to feed our customers’ water supply needs. Heavy rain can further compound this issue as it leads to flooding, which affects our technical team’s ability to attend to blocked intakes.”

“Excessive rain also increases raw water turbidity, an issue that is currently affecting our production volume, in the Central-Eastern Division and the Western Division. In fact, in the Suva-Nausori corridor, heavy and prolonged rains have led to highly discoloured and turbid water.”

Turbidity is a measure of the amount of dirt present in the water. Once this dirty water reaches WAF’s water treatment plants, which are already operating above capacity to cater for the daily demand from customers, WAF operational teams are 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 back-washed because they become too clogged. We are then forced to take our water filters offline to clean them, so as to ensure that safe and high-quality water is supplied to customers.”

“Again, the result is less water being produced, and less water into what is already a very keenly balanced supply and demand system. This eventually means water disruptions to thousands.”

Mr Soderberg said that WAF has already initiated an action plan to resolve these ongoing issues, including treatment plant upgrades and the $210 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.

For further enquiries, customers can call 3346777 and 5777 (all-mobile network users), email contact@waf.com.fj or go to the WAF Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WaterAuthorityofFiji

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