Water issues in South blamed on algae in Desalcott pipes

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Water issues in South blamed on algae in Desalcott pipes

An unusually high build-up of algae in the pipes is being blamed for the drop in water distribution for large parts of South Trinidad.

This was revealed on Friday by the general manager of the Desalination Company of TT (Desalcott) in Pt Lisas, Mr John Thompson.

During a media conference at the Ministry of Public Utilities, Alexandra Street, St Clair on Friday afternoon, Thompson stated that when the Pt Lisas plant opened in 2006, there were no algal blooms, but rising sea-water temperatures caused by climate change had made the phenomenon more severe in recent times.

Thompson said steps have been taken to reduce blockage in the plant’s intake system, but the sheer volume of algae remains a challenge.

“We have to deal with those organics by chlorinating, and to stop the multiplying, we have added chemicals for them to clump together (so they) would be easier to move through our sedimentation and filtration systems.

“Nonetheless, it’s so much at the moment, filtration systems have been clogged so you can’t pass much water through them, and there’s also some fouling of our membranes, which we have to take offline in sequence to clean. And that’s why our capacity is somewhat reduced.

“We hope the algae blooms will reduce in quantity very shortly and we’ll be back to our full 40 million imperial gallons per day capacity.”

Thompson said the key to dealing with these large volumes of algae was microfiltration, to ease the strain on the existing filtration system.

He said additional investments would introduce microfiltration, but he added: “It’s quite an expensive system – we’re talking millions of US dollars – and it won’t be quick, we’re talking about somewhere in the region of 12 months.

“Perhaps in 2024, we are also improving our back-washing system so we can clean the medium filters more quickly than we do at the moment.”

WASA’s acting CEO Kelvin Romain said as a short-term solution, the authority would redirect water throughout the southern part of the island, using plants in Penal and Siparia, as well as the Navet water supply.