Monday, February 19, 2018

US$246m loan to upgrade wastewater

A US$246 million loan agreement—the largest to be made in the Western Hemisphere—has been settled between the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for local wastewater management.

The end result of the eight-year project is expected to be increased national coverage of at least 16 per cent, Minister of the Environment and Water Resources Ganga Singh said on Monday at a ceremony to mark the occasion, at the Hyatt Regency hotel on the Port of Spain Waterfront.

Water recycling for industrial use will be among the goals of the eight-year project, the single largest wastewater investment for Trinidad and Tobago. Water reused from the Beetham Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) will be directed to the Point Lisas Industrial Estate, Singh said.

Among the top catchment areas targeted for reform are Malabar and San Fernando.

The project will look for improvement of effluent quality and receiving water in the Caroni River for Malabar and the Cipero River for San Fernando, in compliance with Environmental Management Authority (EMA) guidelines.

There will be improved sanitation in both catchments, Singh said.

The funding will also go towards the continuation of existing projects, such as a US$30 million Maloney project that includes the integration of eight plants and the construction of a new plant.

WASA will also begin addressing abandoned systems that have been negatively affecting the environment, one prime example being the Palmiste system in south Trinidad, and design work will continue for the Chaguanas catchment area.

The agreement was signed in January by IDB president Dr Alberto Moreno and Planning Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie.

"This country currently manages wastewater from only 30 per cent of its population," Singh said, "where the goal should be full coverage.

"We cannot waste time engaging in barren and sterile debates as to whether water should be separated from waste water. Institutionally, whilst over 200 private sector sewer plants spew raw sewage into our environment, this is our country and our responsibility—all of us—to take care of the environment of our country," Singh said.