Belize Water Services (BWS) also had another issue to discuss at the press conference. This past weekend, Hattieville residents were without water for over a day. According to Belize Water Services (BWS) a power outage caused by lightning damaged the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) transformer which provides power to BWS’ pumping station was the root of the issue. This pumping station is responsible for supplying water to Hattieville. CEO of BWS, Alvin Haynes, gave a further explanation of the extended water interruption that affected some 766 customers.
Alvin Haynes, CEO, Belize Water Services: “Because of the way modern water systems work there is no water without power. So one of the things that BWS has done over the recent years is to basically install back up generators at all of our main stations. In other words what we’re trying to do is once BEL goes off then we supply power so we can continue pumping water. This usually works extremely well. Unfortunately with this situation in Hattieville there was a thunderstorm and it caused damage to BEL’s system. What we did no realize immediately was that it also blew the BEL transformer that directly supplies the pump station which is at Rockville Gracie Rock and damaged our electrical panels and our generator. So when power was restored to Hattieville around four o’clock the afternoon Saturday afternoon, our system did not come on and BEL, give them their due, worked into until about 10pm on Saturday night trying to restore power to that station. The next morning, Sunday morning, bright an early the guys went back we mobilized a mobile generator, fortunately BEL managed to get power back up at about 2pm but our electrical controls were so damaged we had to find replacement units and we actually had to go to Belmopan where we had a similar system as back up to the Belmopan to get the control panels from there. Long and short is that it wasn’t until later in the afternoon about four o’clock that we managed to get some pumping going.”
Haynes also mentioned the types of assessment BWS will make in order to provide better lightning protection.
Alvin Haynes, CEO, Belize Water Services: “Usually we are not affected, it’s a problem that we used to see fairly often in the past. We’ve invested a significant amount to ensure lightning protection for our stations but a direct hit by lightning will destroy anything and that seems to have been the case, at least extremely high voltages running through the wires in this situation. In this case we were able to change the panels and get back functionality. But one of the things we will do is assess how much it cost and assess what we need to do in terms of replacement and probably better protection. Hattieville is 766 connections, you extrapolate that using the Statistical Institute 4.2 persons per household then obviously we’re dealing with several thousand people out of water, some of our own staff.”
According to a release from BWS, they are well advanced in a project to link Hattieville to the Belize City water Distribution system to ensure that customers have a redundant supply of water in such emergency situation.