Young engineers wanted for ‘exciting’ water project



Project Neptune is a five-year component of the PUC master plan to resolve the water crisis with a R1.4 billion investment, financed by the government in partnership with the European Investment Bank.
“For the past ten years of so, we’ve had the continuous problem of water scarcity in Seychelles and as the economy grows, so does the demand, so we need to keep on working on the supply side to meet demand,” PUC’s chief executive Robert Stravens said.

From water storage to backup desalination

The Neptune project has five main components, namely reducing non-revenue water (NRW), finding new sources, improving storage, work on demand management and maintain a back-up desalination plant.

Non-revenue water is water produced by the PUC but which does not generate any income, as it is either lost through burst pipes, leaks, or used by consumers but whose meters are not working properly.

A team will be trained in leak detection, which Mr Stravens said is a very skilled job, where one will have to use acoustic devices to go out and listen to leaks, especially those underground.

The second component, finding new water supplies, includes work on analysing Hodoul River, which is now feeding around 200 to 250 houses, and look for water sheds.

Also part of the second component is protecting water sources, especially from human sewage pollution, which places like La Digue are very much vulnerable to, since most of their supplies are underground.

Mr Stravens said they have identified sources like the Trois Frères River at Sans Soucis, and Rivière Sèche at La Misère, which both  have great potential for daily yields – as much as  around 600 tonnes of water a day from Trois Frères – but which cannot be used because of both having been polluted by water from septic tanks and houses.

Thirdly, water storage will also be incorporated into the project, which includes the raising of the La Gogue dam level, investigating the feasibility of having a new dam on Praslin, to finish detailed site investigations of around six or seven potential sites.

“The La Gogue dam-raising has been seen as very feasible and this we are proceeding with a detailed site investigation at the moment, and expect to be starting construction in around 18 months from now,” said Mr Stravens.

Demand management will also be addressed in Project Neptune, where people will be asked to reduce the amount of water they use daily, and a campaign will be launched to educate people on how they can easily do this with minimum effort.

“Each person on average uses 160 litres of water per day and we are planning to help people cut this down to 140 litres daily, with for example, devices like economic showerheads instead of regular ones,” he said.

The fifth component comprises the use of a desalination plant as a backup to help close the deficits during the dry season when required. In future years, when all the other four components of project Neptune are completed, the desalination plant will still be used and needed as a backup plan, since relying only on rainwater is quite risky, Mr Stravens remarked.

“We are looking for young graduate engineers because this is going to be a once in a generation investment in the water sector and an extremely exciting time for talented graduates, even those with little experience for now,” said Mr Stravens.


By Ivan Hollanda

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