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Antigua Announces Major Water Expansion Project in Partnership with Seven Seas Water Group

Agreement being signed by APUA Chairman Sir Robin Yearwood, APUA General Manager John Bradshaw, Seven Seas CEO Henry Charrabé at of Treasury building in Antigua

The Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) has inked a 12-year-agreement with Seven Seas Water Group to expand the country’s potable water capacity by three million gallons daily. The public-private partnership involves the construction of two sea water reverse osmosis plants; one at Ffryes Beach and the other at Barnacle.

APUA’s General Manager John Bradshaw said the Ffryes Beach facility will be the first to come on stream, with an estimated timeline not exceeding six months. It will add one million gallons of  water to the system while the Barnacle facility will be built within 18 months, producing two million gallons.

“This is a start to the end of all this rationing,” declared Bradshaw, indicating relief for residents who have long endured water shortages.

Currently, Antigua’s daily water capacity is approximately capped at 11 million gallons. However, with this expansion, Utilities Minister Melford Nicholas anticipates reaching an optimal capacity of up to 14 million gallons per day, effectively meeting industry demands.

“It is certainly not the end of the road in respect of the challenges we have with water,” he said.

The ultimate goal, he said, is to bring water to many areas in Antigua that have been traditionally underserved by APUA. Remote areas of Upper Buckleys, Clarkes Hill, Cedar Valley, Cassada Gardens he noted have remained without pipe borne water for decades, having never been serviced by the utilities company.

Seven Seas Water Group CEO, Henry Charrabé, highlighted the company’s readiness to commence construction, with equipment expected to arrive in Antigua within seven months of signing. Seven Seas, a US-based company, boasts extensive experience in water and desalination projects across the Caribbean and overseas.

The total investment for both projects amounts to approximately EC$70 million, with Seven Seas contributing $62.1 million and APUA allocating $15 million mainly for civil works and water distribution system improvements.

“This is a contract where we invest our own money and only get paid if and when we deliver water to the quantity and quality as described in the contract which we believe is the definition of a successful private-public partnership,” Charrabé noted.

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In future, Minister Nicholas noted that the government will also ink another deal with another company to increase water capacity, bringing water production 10 per cent above the needed capacity for Antigua. In that way, Bradshaw said there will be 24-hour water availability on the island, even when one or more plants may have to be put offline for maintenance. 

Despite the ambitious expansion plans, Minister Nicholas acknowledged the need to address distribution challenges within APUA, citing frequent breakages in the “brittle” distribution system that result in significant water losses. This causes the company to lose up to approximately 40 per cent of the water it provides to homes. 

With increasing drought conditions due to climate and environmental changes the expansion of water capacity comes at a crucial time and is expected to meet the growing demand of the tourism industry which accounts for the majority of the government’s annual revenue.

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