Sewerage system buyer sought

For sale by government: One used
wastewater system in need of upgrades.

The Cayman Islands Government is
trying to sell the unprofitable wastewater system to someone who will guarantee
needed improvements are made and put an end to one of Cayman’s nastiest
pollution problems.

An expression of interest notice was
posted Friday in the Caymanian Compass inviting those who think they might want
to take on the water system to let the Government know.

It’s the first step in the process
of divesting the government asset.

Expressions of interest are due by
noon, 12 March.

Premier McKeeva Bush has said the
government could put an additional $20 million in its coffers with the sale of
the sewerage system.

But the sale is intended to have
more than just financial benefits for the country.

 “Every day, there are 7 million gallons of
wastewater being flushed and not being treated,” said Water Authority Board Chair
Jonathan Piercy.

“Just to put this in perspective,
ounce for ounce, atom to atom, if we compare the amount of untreated wastewater
being released into the ground compared to what’s going into Mount Trashmore,
our problem is at least three times greater.”

The undertaking will include
expanding the wastewater collection system with priority going to Grand
Cayman’s three most densely populated areas – West Bay, George Town and Bodden
Town – and construction of a new biological wastewater treatment plant. Unlike
the existing plant, its treatment process will allow the effluent to be reused
for agriculture and irrigation.

Mr. Piercy said because the plant
and the Cayman wastewater system  are not
profitable, their operation and maintenance have been subsidised by the drinking
water side of the Authority’s operations.

“Furthermore, every now and then
the wastewater system has to undergo very expensive maintenance and upgrades,
for example when unsuitable clay pipes have had to be replaced with PVC pipes,”
he said.

The major overhaul and expansion
the wastewater management system requires is beyond the scope of the Water
Authority’s resources.

“Now is the time to do it. Successive
governments have ignored the issue as it’s nota profit-making entity,”
said Mr. Piercy. We think that doing it this way and having a company
partnering with government is the right solution.”

Once sold, the wastewater system’s
services will be part of a multi-year license issued by the Cayman Islands Government.

Work is also required to come up
with the regulations governing the system once the license is issued.

“We will try to sell it for a reasonable
price, we have KPMG doing a valuation right now, so we may get a fair estimate
of the facilities,” said Mr. Piercy.

He said the costs should not prohibitive.

 “To spread the cost we need to reach an
economy of scale and the main objective of making sure we expand the system to all
three main areas we need to cover should allow for that.”