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Grand Bahama Utility Company Limited is making steady headway towards return of potable water throughout the island after the impact of catastrophic Hurricane Dorian

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#Freeport, GB, November 11, 2019 – Bahamas – .The Grand Bahama Utility Company Limited (GBUC) confirms steady progress towards our full return to potable water on the island of Grand Bahama.  Prior to the onset of Hurricane Dorian, tap water provided to the community of Grand Bahama was below 600 ppm (salt particle content per million parts of water), which bettered by a large margin the 1,000 ppm World Health Organization (WHO) standard for consumption. In certain other jurisdictions, 1,500 ppm is considered an acceptable level. 

In addition to the damaged pumping stations, which were brought back on line within 5-7 days of the storm to restore the island’s running water ‘distribution’, the wrath of Hurricane Dorian compromised the island’s ‘supply’ of fresh salt-free water in Wellfields 1, 3, 6, comprising some 220 wells in total, which account for 35%, 5% and 60% (respectively) of water being supplied throughout the island.  Wellfields 1 & 3 were flooded with 4 ft. of sea water, while Wellfield 6 was flooded with 21 ft. of sea water for a period of 36 hours during and after the treacherous storm.  The flooding destroyed the entire vertical infrastructure including utility poles, wires, electrical components, control and motoring systems. 

Utility Engineering Manager, Remington Wilchcombe said, “Once the flood water had subsided at Wellfields 1 & 6, our team immediately enacted an action plan to restore water supply.  An assessment was conducted to determine the impact to the systems. One of the wells tested at 25,000 ppm, which is close to the salinity of sea water at 35,000 ppm.  Results a few days later revealed that the average reading per well was 8,000 ppm in both Wellfields 1 & 3 and 9,000 ppm in Wellfield 6.”

Post assessment, mechanics were recruited to bring back-up systems into service.  Once back-up systems were restored, the GBUC was able to begin rationing fresh water reserves into the system 5 days after the storm. 

Simultaneously, the GBUC began working with Sanitation Services Company Limited to conduct clean-up efforts within the Wellfields. Simultaneously, Grand Bahama Power Company Limited was conducting repairs and working to regenerate the power systems at Wellfields 1 & 6.  Additionally, industrial partners including the Grand Bahama Shipyard, Bahamas Industrial Technologies Ltd., Martin Marietta Aggregates – Bahama Rock, and Freeport Container Port, were all contributing resources to the restoration by providing technical service and physical support in manpower and equipment to return the plant to service. 

Early September tests indicated the average salinity reading per well had improved with Wellfield 1 down to 6,000 ppm, Wellfield 3 at 2,500 ppm, and Wellfield 6 reduced to 7,000 ppm. By September 30th, the average salinity reading per well had improved with Wellfield 1 at 4,000 ppm, Wellfield 3 reduced to 2,000 ppm, and Wellfield 6 still showing the highest salinity content of 6,000 ppm.

Mr. Wilchcombe stated, “In an effort to ensure the speediest process for restoring potable water, we enlisted international services to perform a first phase Hydrological Study to provide further testing and recommendations relating to the movement, and physical and chemical composition of the water.”  Water & Earth Sciences, Inc. conducted a Resistivity Test, which assesses the level of salt water existing in the water lens.  The results confirmed that 99% of the Wellfields were inundated with sea water, which compromised the water quality.  Further, it was determined that all of the Wellfields had varying layers of salt water, brackish water and fresh water. 

A second assessment was conducted by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which included the areas of Freeport City and East End.  The results confirmed findings provided by Water & Earth Sciences, Inc. noting that the Wellfields had significant sea water incursion.

A third assessment was conducted by Dr. Yakov Livshitz from the Hydrological Service of Israel, which again included the areas of Freeport City and East End.  First, their team visited the island to gather samples for testing to determine the porous nature of the limestone.  The results were analyzed and a follow-up visit ensued.  Second, a detailed assessment to locate fresh water lenses in the current Wellfields was carried out.  Flow rates were tested to determine the time frame and restoration rate.  Finally, a survey was conducted to find additional fresh water lenses outside of the Wellfields to extract or supply fresh water.  As a result, fresh water was found in some high elevated areas.  However, the capacity is not known at this time.

Geron Turnquest, General Manager of the GBUC said, “A second phase Hydrological Study must be carried out to validate and confirm the capacity of the fresh water lenses that were found for the development of new Wellfield locations. The most feasible approach, currently underway, is to bypass various higher salt content wells in Wellfield 6 with additional fresh water reserves further East, and to revive and develop Wellfield 4, which has been out of service for a number of years.”

In light of current efforts to reduce water salinity to WHO standards, the GBUC has also discussed the possibility of a Reverse Osmosis (RO) System.  Mr. Turnquest added, “We have considered the possibility of introducing a large-scale Reverse Osmosis System.  But we are advised that this presents challenges.  Despite it being an expensive investment that will impact the cost of water to the consumer, it will also take a minimum of three to four months to develop.  By this time, we aim to have resolved this salinity issue with new measures in place.  An RO system on this scale would only be needed if the possibility of having no fresh water exists.”  That said, smaller backup RO systems in small modular units are very likely be part of our plan to provide drinking water in the event of a future hurricane.

Assessments to date reveal a continuing decline in salinity levels.  Wellfield 1 is now 2,400 ppm, Wellfield 3 is now ‘potable’ at 500 ppm, and Wellfield 6 is 3,600 ppm.  Ian Rolle, President of the Grand Bahama Port Authority says, “The GBUC is committed to resolving the issue of salinity levels as a result of the tidal surge.  The actual water pressure and the volume pumped per day is back up to pre-storm levels which is reassuring. Key infrastructure works are in progress and we continue to confer with the experts to bring about the best and speediest return to our pre-storm highest quality fresh water”.

Residents have been advised through public notices that the water can be used for sanitary purposes only and not for consumption.  GBPA Chairman Sarah St George added, “We wish to emphasize that the water is clean and bacteria free.  While we work to restore potable water, we have established a partnership between GBPA, GBUC, NEMA and several NGOs to provide free drinking water to local communities at water distribution sites island-wide.  We are grateful to our NGO partners Isra-Aid, Samaritan’s Purse, Mercy Corps, Siemens, Resolve Marine, Water Mission, International Medical Corp, Operators without Borders, and ADRA.  As salinity levels decrease naturally through rainfall and new wells come on line, we look forward to restoring a potable water supply through the island of Grand Bahama in the near future. We thank everyone in the community for their patience and understanding. We are on the right path to bringing our water back to its erstwhile pristineness.”

Release: Grand Bahama Port Authority

Photo Caption: “Dr. Yakov Livshitz Senior member of the Hydrological Service of Israel visited Grand Bahama and toured our well fields with the GB Utility Team to gauge salinity levels and the pace of aquifer recovery. His initial findings were very encouraging.” (Pictured from left: Remington Wilchcombe, Utility Engineering Manager and Dr. Yakov Livshitz)

Bahamas News

Works Minister tours capital works projects in East Grand Bahama

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#TheBahamas, October 26, 2021 – Minister of Public Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears, on Thursday visited areas of East Grand Bahama on a familiarization tour.

Accompanied by Parliamentary Secretary Baccus Rolle and Director of Public Works Melanie Roach, the delegation was joined by Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey; Senator James Turner; Senator Kirk Russell; Permanent Secretary Harcourt Brown and Island Administrator Sharon Williams.

The delegation visited Water Cay and was able to examine the damaged dock; the design of the reconstructed dock has already been completed.  They visited McClean’s Town Clinic and toured Sweeting’s Cay where some buildings have been condemned, while others have been completed but need to be inspected.

After Sweeting’s Cay they viewed the damage done to the Sea Wall in High Rock. The proposed site for the comprehensive school for East Grand Bahama was also inspected.

It was at the dock in McClean’s Town that Minister Sears addressed the media. He said the purpose of the visit was to survey the capital works projects, and also get briefings from staff.

Minister remarked that it was indeed inspiring to see the generosity of international NGOs such as Core that contributed to the redevelopment and restoration of some of the infrastructure.

The Minister continued, “And of course [there’s] the University of The Bahamas where a lot of work has been done to the building and repurposing of the building to establish a center of research around sustainability and resilience.”

Minister Sears will meet with his staff on Friday morning and then complete his visit with a tour of capital works projects in Freeport and West Grand Bahama – viewing locations such as the Post Office, the Garnet Levarity Justice Centre, the Government Complex in Eight Mile Rock, the Junior High School and then on to West End to view the clinic.

 

By Robyn Adderley

Release: BIS

 

Photo Captions:

Header: A tour of Sweeting’s Cay was on the agenda for Minister of Public Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears when he came to Grand Bahama on Thursday. While there, he was updated on the status of the school, administrator’s office, and had the chance to stop in and view the turtle pond.

1st insert: Another stop to examine capital works projects by Public Works Minister the Hon. Alfred Sears was Water Cay.  The design for the reconstruction of the damaged dock is already underway.

2nd insert: Minister of Public Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears, accompanied by Parliamentary Secretary Baccus Rolle and other staff toured the University of The Bahamas Northern Campus on Thursday. 

MCCLEAN’S TOWN CLINIC – Minister of Public Works and Utilities, the Hon. Alfred Sears and Minister for Grand Bahama, the Hon. Ginger Moxey, toured McClean’s Town Clinic on Thursday as a part of the capital works tour.

 

 

(BIS Photos/Andrew Miller)

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Bahamas gets 57,330 doses of Pfizer vaccine to boost its COVID-19 Vaccination Programme

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#TheBahamas, October 26, 2021 – The Bahamas received some 57,330 doses of Pfizer vaccine as the country continues to rollout the national vaccination pogramme against the COVID-19 virus.

The Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr Michael Darville was on hand to receive the latest tranche of vaccines, which arrived at the Lynden Pindling International Airport on Thursday, October 21, 2021.  Also present were health officials, and PAHO/WHO Country Representative Dr. Eldonna Boisson.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) assisted The Bahamas in receiving the vaccines – the fourth batch — through the COVAX facility, which is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and therapies.

Dr. Darville on behalf of the Bahamian people thanked PAHO and all others, who were instrumental in the country getting the vaccines.  “These vaccines are absolutely essential for our vaccination programme and we have people throughout our Family Islands just waiting for the doses to arrive.

“We are pleased that they are here today and you will see very soon that we will bump up the amount of vaccinations at our various centres not only in New Providence and Grand Bahama but also throughout the Family Islands,” he said.

Dr. Darville explained that the vaccination teams would move “very quickly” because there are people at the various centres waiting to be inoculated with the Pfizer vaccine.

“The programme was scaled back a little bit because we needed to have the vaccines on ground. They are here. They will be stored effectively and you will begin to see even a greater rollout because the appetite and the demand for vaccines particularly Pfizer is definitely on the rise, and that is a good sign for us and we need to be able to adequately meet the demand with the supply” he said.

According to Dr. Darville, the rollout of this tranche of vaccines is expected as early as Friday (Oct 22).  And, this will be realized throughout the Family Islands mainly those where there are high incidences of COVID-19 cases.

“Thanks to PAHO and thanks to all of the other parties involved, we are actually early and that is a good sign for us,” he said, referring to the tentative date of November 1, 2021 rollout.

Added Dr. Darville, “It’s just the small logistics of getting the vaccines to the various locations because the people are very interested throughout the country to be vaccinated because they are finally understanding that [for] the individuals who are vaccinated, the chances of hospitalization if you get COVID is very low, and the chances of death if you get COVID is very low.

These are the things that we keep pushing and the Bahamian people are responding in a very positive way to the vaccines.”

Dr. Boisson said that PAHO/WHO was happy to have been able to assist with the delivery of these much-needed doses.

“We look forward to further assisting by facilitating the provision of more vaccines in the future through the PAHO Revolving Fund, to complement other vaccine supplies and donations,” she said.

Dr. Boisson credited The Bahamas for doing an excellent job of rapidly rolling out COVID-19 vaccines as they become available.

She noted though that the main challenge to the programme has been limited access to vaccines at times, which is because global demand continues to far exceed supply.

“However, here in The Bahamas you are fortunate to have three of the six WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL) approved vaccines available to you, namely Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Janssen (or Johnson and Johnson).

“All these vaccines are safe and effective. They have all gone through the same stringent regulatory process in order to be granted WHO EUL approval. They all provide significant protection against severe illness and death,” she said.

Dr. Darville and the Dr. Boisson urged the public to get vaccinated, and also to follow the health safety protocols – wearing of masks, hand sanitizing, and social distancing.

 

By Lindsay Thompson

Release: BIS

Photo Caption: The Bahamas received 57,330 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which arrived at the Lynden Pindling International Airport on Thursday, October 21, 2021. Pictured from left are National Immunization Programme Manager Nurse Ruth Bastian; Colin Higgs, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health and Wellness; Dr. Pearl McMillan, Chief Medical Officer; PAHO/WHO Country Representative, Dr. Eldonna Boisson; Minister of Health and Wellness the Hon. Dr. Michael Darville; and Danny Davis, Co-Chair Ministry of Health and Wellness Vaccination Committee.

(BIS Photo/Kristaan Ingraham)

 

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Sia’s vegan creations win New Providence District round of 2021 Culinary Competition

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#TheBahamas, October 26, 2021 – Sia Wright’s vegan dishes earned her the top spot in this year’s recent New Providence district round of the Bahamas Young Chef Culinary Senior Competition.

Participants in the 29th annual Young Chef Competition (New Providence) District are pictured in the Hospitality and Tourism Studies Food Laboratory at Anatol Rodgers Senior High School.

The 11th grade student of Akhepran International Academy who aspires to become a marine biologist and study mammals, entered the competition to challenge her creativity in the kitchen.

“I love the culinary arts,” said Sia. “It has been a passion of mine since I was about 5-years-old. I also think it is amazing to add a plant-based spin on classic Bahamian dishes.”

“My entire immediate family are all vegans.  My siblings and I have all been raised as vegans since birth. We have chosen this lifestyle to ensure [that] we are all healthy and enjoy a high quality of life.  Cooking is something that I enjoy. I look forward to creations featuring a savory dish – ‘Coconut Infused Lentil Brown Stew’ stuffed in a savory parcel topped with pan seared mushroom and mixed salad and a sweet dish – ‘Layered Guava Pudding topped with Chocolate Mousse.’

The contest sponsored by the Ministry of Education (MOE), Mahatma Rice and Robin Hood Flour, challenged the students to use any of the rice and flour products to prepare a dish and dessert based on the theme “Bahamian Culinary Resilience: Going Back to Our Roots.”

The line-up of winners in the 29th annual senior high school competition were:

Sia Wright, first place; Shandon Bain, second place (Kingsway Academy); Alisah Dixon, third place (Bahamas Academy); Kennia Smith, fourth place (C.C. Sweeting); Antwoine Rolle, fifth place (Anatol Rodgers); Dalexis Huyler, sixth place (Anatol Rodgers); Darius Fernander, seventh place (Doris Johnson) and Teanno Kelly, Doris Johnson; eighth place.

Chef Celeste Smith (3rd from left) critiques Kennia Smith’s dish as other judges look on.

The budding chefs concocted their dishes in the Hospitality and Tourism Studies Food Laboratory at Anatol Rodgers Senior High School under the watchful eyes of Chief Judge Gerald Rolle, Clement Williams, Jimmy Dean, Addiemae Farrington, Michael Rolle, and Hazel Rolle, Celeste Smith (pastry chefs).

Of Sia’s rice dish Chef Adderley said, “This impressed me because the flavors I got when I ate this — from the lentils … to the rice, to the mushrooms, this was 100%.

In Atlantis this would blow people away to see that someone this young can put on a plate something like this. This is what I expect to see from someone who has been cooking for 20 years.  He said Sia’s work showed a lot of preparation. “As a chef, you impressed me. [It was] very unique; what makes food different is presentation, uniqueness, flavor and taste,” he added.

Chef Williams said, “The execution is what separates the winner from the loser. It was well executed. When you cut into it, it bursts open with flavor.

“Great job! This is a specialized area in the kitchen. We have guests in the hotels who can’t eat regular food and this is what they want.”

Chef Williams took issue with the portion size of Sia’s dessert advising that it should be smaller. He also suggested that she enhance her dish with dark, sautéed tomatoes for more flavor.

Raquel Turnquest, Education Officer, Turnquest congratulated the students for representing themselves, their families and Family and Consumer Science Education Departments.

“You are the brightest and best of what we have,” said Ms. Turnquest. “Continue with your studies. When you put in the time you will get your reward.”

Darius Fernander, of Doris Johnson Senior High School, is interviewed by judges during the competition.

She said, “The whole idea behind this competition is to have a village type of concept around the knowledge, skills and attitudes, that are young chefs need to have industry, home and school all working together to produce young chefs, young culinarians for the future of The Bahamas.

“The competition is to give the students what they need to pursue a career in hospitality and tourism studies. They may choose to be a chef or start their own business. This is something to get the students engaged and immersed in what they are studying in Family and Consumer Science Education.”

She explained that the future of the competition depends on what happens this year — whether the international sponsors would come back next year and whether the MOE, the primary sponsor, would allow the competition to proceed.

“It’s a team effort. This year competing in COVID-19 is a whole different flavor. Hats off to all of the teachers that have set aside the time to work with the students.”

Darius, the first student ever to represent his school’s Vocational Department, entered ‘Long Island Runner and Coconut Darry’ — curry chicken and white rice with a twist. He described it as a baked tartlet with white rice and the crust and cheese as the base, stuffed with minced curry chicken, vegetables and topped off with cheese. The dessert was ‘Coconut Duff with a Coconut Jimmy Sauce.’

Other dishes included:

 

Antwoine:

‘Rake n’ Scrape Rice Cake with Lemon Grass Spiced Poached Conch and Tropical Salsa’ along with ‘Baked Guava Pancakes with Pineapple and Guava Sauce/Cream Cheese’ topping.

Dalexis:

‘Surf n Turf: Steamed Dumplings with Vitamalt, Passionfruit Sauce’

 

Kennia:

‘Avocado Rice Cheesecake with Spicy Tamarind Sauce’ and ‘Bahama Roll in Sea Grape Sauce Topped with Micro Grains.’

Sia Wright, of Akhepran International Academy, explains her method to the judges during the interview session.

Alisah:

‘Coconut Tart Rice Pudding and Sour Orange Iced Flour Cake Cookies’

The top three winners will move into the national round where they will compete against their counterparts in the Family Islands.

 

By Kathryn Campbell

Release: BIS

 

Header: Sia Wright, first place finisher in the 29th annual Young Chef New Providence District Competition is shown preparing one of her dishes.

(BIS Photos/Raymond Bethel)

 

 

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