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Emergency Response to Water Shortages

The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority (WAPA) was experiencing critical water shortages at the Randolph Harley Power Plant on St. Thomas, impacting 5,500 residents, local businesses, and several hundred thousand visiting tourists. The shortages were caused by the challenges WAPA faced in making much needed repairs to older thermal desalination equipment.

With WAPA’s plant experiencing significant downtime and no water available in storage, immediate assistance was received by the VI National Guard. The VI Guard brought in a total of eight 40k gpd seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) units. While the temporary supply offered some relief, it was not nearly enough capacity to meet the average daily demand of 1.8 million gpd.

WAPA called on Seven Seas Water to provide an emergency supply of 2 million gpd (7,570m3/d) in the shortest timeframe possible. A fast-track solution was paramount to mitigating the economic and social impacts caused by the water shortage that was occurring during the peak tourist season.

In mid 2011, Seven Seas Water agreed with WAPA to construct a state of the art permanent SWRO system to replace WAPA’s aging thermal desalination equipment. In November 2011, while in the permitting process for the long term plant, the water emergency occurred on St. Thomas. Seven Seas Water was asked to respond immediately to provide a short-term solution until the long term permanent plant could be constructed.

A total of eight SWRO containerized units were shipped to St. Thomas in two phases. Eleven days from contract signing, three SWRO units arrived at the Randolph Harley Power Plant. The equipment was up and running a mere 29 days from contract signing, producing 750k gpd (2,838m3/d). The second shipment of three units arrived 19 days from contract signing, while at the same time, two additional Seven Seas Water containerized units were sent to St. Thomas from the existing Seven Seas Water facility at the WAPA Richmond plant on St. Croix.

All the units were installed and operating, providing a total capacity of 2 million gpd (7,570m3/d) within 46 days from contract signing. WAPA’s water storage tanks, which were virtually empty, began to fill. All the permitting was approved for the installation of the permanent SWRO facility in mid-February 2012. During construction, the emergency containers will continue to operate. Once the long term installation is producing water, the containers will be removed and sent to another location. The new facility will produce all the drinking water in St. Thomas as well as the high purity process water required to operate their power plant.

With no up-front capital required from WAPA, Seven Seas Water quickly deployed the mobile SWRO units under a build-own-operate (BOO) arrangement. Seven Seas manages and operates the water facility daily, guaranteeing a reliable water source at a fixed cost per gallon over the entire term of the agreement.

Project Update

Seven Seas Water owned and operated the emergency quick deploy SWRO system and delivered the quantity and quality of water required by the Virgin Islands Water & Power Authority until August 7, 2013. The plant was decommissioned shortly after a new 3.3 MGD (12,490m3/d) land based SWRO was constructed on site. The new facility is also owned and operated by Seven Seas Water.