Water conservation requires nation-wide efforts


The Providence desalination plant has brought considerable relief to our current water shortage

This was said by the managing director of the Public Utilities Corporation, Mr Stephen Rousseau, when explaining the problem of water shortage in the country.

The government has over the years taken several steps towards solving the shortage of water experienced during the dry season, Mr Rousseau explained. One such measure is the setting up of the desalination plants, which were expected to bring some relief. 

But the projects initiated, Mr Rousseau pointed out, would only help to mitigate the situation, as water consumption will always increase with the continuing rise in demand, especially with new developments on newly created islands, with more hotels coming up and increase in productivity in industries.

The desalination project, he said, was conceived in 2001 to serve Seychelles until 2010 on the basis that demand for water consumption would grow at a rate of 6.5% per annum, which was the trend over the past 15 years, and that the rainfall level would be maintained.

However, he said, as a result of demand mainly from industries, the consumption of water has surpassed all forecasts with an 18% growth in 2002 and 11%  in 2003, which means that the desalination plant at Providence, though producing the maximum 5,000 cubic metres, cannot satisfy the current demand. Moreover, supply from the two plants on Mahe (at Providence and Anse Boileau) do not cover the entire island.

The plant at Providence, Mr Rousseau said, was built to cater for consumption in areas on the East Coast and in the vicinity of Victoria where population concentration is higher.

"Without the desalination plant, most of the areas getting water supply for 12 hours per day, would have been receiving supply for only two hours per day," Mr Rousseau noted, adding that during the drought period people on the west coast normally get water for only half an hour per day.

"Once the plant at Anse Boileau becomes operational these people too will get 12 hours of water per day during drought," he stated.

But what has caused the water shortage situation to worsen, Mr Rousseau said, is that compared to last year when there was heavy rainfall during the dry season, rainfall level dropped considerably to 50% in May, 35% in June and to 10% in July, resulting in rapid depletion of water in the La Gogue and Rochon dams.

He said immediate action was taken to start the Providence desalination plant to supplement the supply, but unfortunately as a result of pipe leaks, it had to cease operation for a whole month, while undergoing repairs. 

Mr Rousseau explained that furthermore, PUC had not yet been able to replace a number of old underground pipes installed over 40 years back and as a result regular pipe bursts were causing a loss of about 30 to 35% of water, that otherwise could have been stored and supplied to the public.

In addition to that, he said, the company has a number of water projects which are behind schedule, such as the connection of the Anse Boileau desalination plant which can produce some 2,500 kilolitres of water per day, the South Mahe Water Supply project to supply the rest of Mahe, and works on the new pipeline from the La Gogue dam to the treatment plant at Le Niol.

He said PUC would need about $5 million to complete these projects.

There are also plans to increase by 50% the production capacity of the desalination plant at Providence so that it can produce 7,500 cubic metres of water.

In the meantime to cope with the shortage, PUC is transferring water from Les Mamelles and Grand Anse Mahe to the Rochon dam, and from Grand Anse to Anse Boileau. The Port Launay treatment works is also helping to distribute water to Port Glaud and Béolière.


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