The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the government of The Bahamas have launched a project that aims to improve the water supply systems serving communities on New Providence and six Family Islands – Andros, Cat Island, Crooked Island, Eleuthera, Long Island, and San Salvador.
The Water Supply Improvement Project, launched on February 20, is being supported by a US$28 million loan from CDB. The loan includes an allocation of US$12.4 million in resources provided by the European Investment Bank to CDB under the climate action line of credit. The government of The Bahamas will contribute US$13.3 million to the project.
“CDB has a very long history with the water sector in The Bahamas, stretching back to 1976, when we assisted with financing the facility at Morgan’s Bluff on Andros, for the transportation of water to New Providence. This project represents our fourth intervention in the sector,” said Patricia McKenzie, Vice-President (operations), during the project launch.
The water supply improvement project aims to renew and expand access to sustainable and safe water supplies for 3,400 households, providing new service to at least 1,800 households. It will include the installation of more than 180 kilometers of new mains and the construction of new water storage tanks, pumping stations, and well field infrastructure.
The project will help address a number of water challenges which communities across The Bahamas, particularly within the Family Islands, face. Many households rely on water from private wells, tanker trucks, and rainwater harvesting to meet most of their domestic needs. Some depend on bottled water for cooking and drinking. Deteriorating water supply mains on the Family Islands, due to age, inadequate depth of placement, and the use of inappropriate materials have contributed to a high level of non-revenue water — water lost through leaks or that is not billed to customers — across the Family Islands.
“This government remains committed to bringing about world class piped potable water to each and every Bahamian at the earliest possible opportunity. We know that these improvements combined with other infrastructural improvements will spur greater economic development and an overall improvement in the quality of life for all of these communities in the medium term,” stated Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development during his feature address.
The project will also include technical assistance to support the government of The Bahamas in its efforts to avoid, adapt to, and mitigate the negative impacts of climate variability and climate change on water. Such impacts include changes in seasonal availability and distribution of freshwater; contamination of groundwater due to saltwater intrusion; and water shortages due to increased drought frequency and severity. Technical assistance will be provided for the development of a climate risk and vulnerability assessment and an adaptation plan of action.
The project is consistent with The Bahamas Country Strategy Paper (2013-2017) and with CDB’s corporate priorities to strengthen and modernize economic and social infrastructure; and to promote environmental sustainability.