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Apr 29, 2003

B.W.S. apologises for no water in nation’s capital

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The nation’s capital has a well-deserved reputation for civilized living…but lately the residents of Belmopan have been suffering. Patrick Jones has more.

Martin Greenhalgh, Chief Executive Officer, B.W.S.

“It’s just to some extent, bad luck that this double failure occurred at this time.”

Patrick Jones, Reporting

And with that began the public apology by Belize Water Services for the company’s failure to warn residents of Belmopan that they would spend most of the day without water. Operations Manager Roy Tombs told reporters that an extraordinary chain of events on Monday evening led to the complete failure of two vital pieces of equipment at the pumping station in Belmopan this morning that left over three thousand customers high and dry.

Roy Tombs, Operations Manager

“This is quite a unique incident, in fact normally in this situation you have a pump which actually runs the water supply and you have a stand by pump. In this particular incident we lost both at the same time and that’s a cause of great concern to us. It’s very unusual.”

Tombs and his colleagues are in no hurry to assign blame and are instead concentrating their efforts on bringing customers back online. The first of two temporary pumps kicked in just before midday today and the other is due to come online around nine o’clock tonight. By tomorrow morning, everyone in the nation’s capital and surrounding areas should be able to a shower without any problems.

Martin Greenhalgh

“There’s nothing we could have done about the pump failures, but what we should have done, I believe it fair is to say we should have responded faster in alerting the public to the issue.”

Roy Tombs

“Well obviously, you can’t guarantee a hundred percent anything in the water industry, but we actually are a very professional company and will do all in our power to actually keep water supplies going in all the areas. We have a very experienced work force and obviously we’re bringing in new technology all the time and that’s all in our plan. What we do ask our customers is, if they see leakage or people wasting water, we would like to ask them to ring us and tell us about this so that we can actually reduce the wastage of water that we have at the moment.”

Patrick Jones

“The investigation is in the preliminary stages, but is the power fluctuation the only thing you see as could have been the cause for the failure of the two pumps?”

Roy Tombs

“I think at this point in time, like any incident, the first thing you have to do is to actually correct the incident and that’s what we’ve been putting all our efforts into at the moment. Obviously, we had the problem with the power yesterday. And so that’s a possibility. We’ll be looking at all possibilities in the next few days and then we will come up with what we consider is the problem and then we will do what we can to rectify so that we make sure that this thing doesn’t happen again.”

Tombs says the likely hood of the pumps being sabotaged by workers is remote, but for now they are content to blame it on a power surge at the plant on Monday, until an investigation proves otherwise. Patrick Jones, for News 5.

C.E.O. Martin Greenhalgh says the two pumps that blew out on Tuesday morning were due to be replaced later this year as part of the upgrading of facilities in Belmopan. It’s the first time that an entire B.W.S. station had failed so catastrophically and the managers at the water company say they will use today’s incident as a teaching tool should another situation like this one arise. But Belmopan is not the only headache for B.W.S. as the company is facing a possible water shortage in Teakettle as the water table upon which system serving the area sits is falling low, due to the onset of the dry season.

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