Cayman Water adds new plant at Abel Castillo Water Works

From left: Frank Armas, Karlene Singh, Manuel Thomaz and Armando Ebanks stand in front of the new train of semi-permeable membranes at the Abel Castillo Water Works. – PHOTOs: Spencer Fordin

Cayman Water has opened a new plant at its Abel Castillo Water Works facility located off the Esterley Tibbetts Highway in West Bay, adding another million gallons of production per day with a chance to double that output.

The plant, which opened last month, cost US$6.1 million to build, and an adjoining water tank cost another $2 million.

But for Manuel Thomaz, the general manager of Cayman Water, it’s worth even more.

“The thing about water plants and the water business is you have to be prepared for the peak consumption. You can’t be prepared for the average,” Mr. Thomaz said.

“Everybody wants to have water in their taps. When you have a peak, you need to be there to supply the water. You always need to have extra capacity to be able to supply the peak demands.”

The new plant currently has equipment capable of producing one million gallons a day, but Mr. Thomaz said it has the capacity to expand and could produce up to two million gallons per day with additional equipment.

As of now, Cayman Water can produce 4.65 million gallons a day and can store 8.75 million gallons, which is roughly equivalent to about three days of local usage. Mr. Thomaz said the company’s Cayman customers typically consume about three million gallons a day, but that jumps to 3.5 or 4 million in high season.

“This plant was very important for the high season that’s just about to start,” said Mr. Thomaz on Wednesday. “We are always looking two or three years ahead. We have our projections and we know what’s going on with the island. Now there are plans for extending the airport runway and a lot of new airliners coming to the island. Tourism is really booming. We need to always be looking ahead.”

Dozens of workers were involved with the construction process, Mr. Thomaz said, and he credited contractors Phoenix Construction for helping to bring in the project in on time and under budget.

The new water tank, pictured next to the plant and a degasifier tower, can hold up to two million gallons of water.

“It’s like a baby in the belly. Nine months, you start from zero and this is built,” he said.

“We were lucky with our partners. Our construction was really good. We had some delays in the beginning with the permits, but we were able to recover part of that with the extra workforce from our general contractor. That’s why we’re able to finish this on time and on budget.”

Mr. Thomaz said the plants are built to last at least 25 years, adding that Cayman Water has an ambitious plan that will see more plants built at Abel Castillo and at the facility in West Bay.

“I would say that in the next five or six years, we’ll probably invest almost $20 million in extra capacity and extra storage,” he said. “It’s a huge investment. It’s needed. We’re always looking ahead of time. We need to build this before it’s needed, so then when it’s needed, the water’s there.”

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