The Water Authority is planning to spend $148.6 million on 24 projects in the Cayman Islands over the next decade.
The projects are outlined in the Water Authority’s 10-year capital development and maintenance plan, which was obtained via an open records request. Costs for specific projects are included in the 10-year plan, but were redacted from the copy provided to the Cayman Compass.
Most of the projects entail maintaining and upgrading the existing water and wastewater infrastructure on Grand Cayman. The Water Authority has about 18,500 connections in the territory, and has a piped-water network that spans the entirety of Grand Cayman east of the Watler’s Road area.
The Water Authority’s biggest projected expense is $46.2 million on expanding its treatment, pumping, and storage facilities to maintain current demand and meet future water supply requirements. Projects include making new pumping stations and rehabilitating existing booster pumping stations.
The Water Authority also plans to spend $23.5 million on expanding the existing water-supply system into new roads, as well as on additional administrative facilities for staff and customers. The new facilities, including a new solar panel canopy of the parking area of its Red Gate site, will reduce the Water Authority’s dependence on fossil fuels, the 10-year plan states.
Along with improvements to the water system, the Water Authority plans to spend $42.8 million on improving its wastewater infrastructure. Projects in this area include the “urgent installation” of a sewer force main in the future airport connector road, as well as extensions of the wastewater collection system into “several critical areas”, the report states.
There are additional plans to build new water plants and other infrastructure on the Sister Islands.
The new infrastructure includes the Water Authority’s long-term plan to connect 80 percent of Cayman Brac residents to the water grid by 2030. Currently, only a little more than 14 percent of Sister Islands households have access to piped water, according to Economics and Statistics Office data.
The Water Authority started this project in 2013, and spent more than $4.5 million to make about 180 connections as of mid-2018. The Water Authority plans to spend another $18.5 million over the next decade on this development, which also includes the construction of a new water plant on the Brac Bluff. Overall, the project is projected to cost $35 million.
The Water Authority issued a request for tenders in Sept. 2018 to conduct exploratory drilling on the Bluff, in order to obtain geological information necessary for the design of the extraction and disposal wells for the planned reverse osmosis plant there. However, the Water Authority’s December board meeting minutes state that the returning bids were “significantly higher” than the authority’s budget.
“The Authority is presently considering its options as this work is critical for the design of the abstraction and disposal wells for the future Reverse Osmosis plant at the Cayman Brac Water Works,” the board meeting minutes state.
Most of the remaining expenditures will be on vehicle and equipment renewals to make sure the Water Authority’s staff has the tools they need to do their jobs, the 10-year report states.
The Water Authority noted that it is still under government’s mandated loan moratorium, which prevents it from taking bank loans to raise funds. The authority will have to fund the above-mentioned projects from its reserves.
“It is therefore important for the Board to ensure the Authority has sufficient reserve balances to meet the challenges of rapid development, aging infrastructure, daily operating costs and legal obligations,” the authority’s December board meeting minutes state.