The Deputy Chief Minister, as Acting Chief Minister, has this morning convened a further emergency Civil Contingencies meeting on the continued fresh water disruption across Gibraltar. The meeting took place at 9:30am from the Strategic Coordination Centre at No.6 Convent Place. This is the sixth meeting to take place since Tuesday. The Chief Minister, who is away from Gibraltar with his family on annual leave, has been continuously in touch remotely with the Deputy Chief Minister. His Excellency the Governor, Vice Admiral Sir David Steel was also present.
The current situation with the AquaGib Reverse Osmosis Plant (RO Plant) is that power has been restored, however, the water supply to the RO plant has been affected by the fire and rockfall and is severely impacting on its ability to generate fresh water. The latter was confirmed late last night once the power station started up after power had been restored.
As a result of the damage to the pipe supplying salt water to the RO plant, it has been unable to produce fresh water. It was envisaged that the potable water kept in storage would last longer but AquaGib noticed a spike in consumption on Wednesday night. This resulted in a loss of water pressure as a result of which water supply to the lower south district and the upper town was affected by Thursday afternoon.
The water shall be disconnected every evening between 00:30 and 7am to both save on the current water supply and increase the water pressure available. Given the damage to the existing water pipe, repairs are in the process to re-route it.
The Government was originally advised that repair works would take approximately 5 days. However, due to contingencies that have been put in place since Tuesday, the latest advice is that this will now take approximately 48 hours.
Only one pump at the North Mole is operational, with this water being prioritised for St Bernard’s Hospital.
The Government of Gibraltar and, in particular, the Office of Civil Contingencies, is liaising with AquaGib to continue to implement contingency measures until the situation returns to normal. Contingency plans have been put in place to ensure continued water supply to all essential services in Gibraltar.
AquaGib have worked with the Care Agency and have set up an emergency helpline for those who are vulnerable, elderly or with disabilities. These individuals can phone 20073659 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Parents or Guardians with children under 12 months are advised not to use mineral water with sodium levels over 200mg per litre for mixing instant formula feeds. Instead, a facility has been set up at Leanse Place where fresh tap water can be collected exclusively for this purpose.
Following the Civil Contingencies meeting this morning, the Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Civil Contingencies met with the Leader of the Opposition at No.6 Convent Place to update him on the latest situation regarding the fire and water issues as well as to explain the detailed contingency measures in place to ensure sufficient potable water supply in Gibraltar throughout the weekend.
The Deputy Chief Minister, the Hon Joseph Garcia CMG MP, said: ‘On behalf of the Government and People of Gibraltar, I would like to thank all the emergency services who have been working flat out in dealing with the fire and subsequent damage to the salt water pipe supplying the Reverse Osmosis Plant. Their efforts have been extraordinary and I have no doubt the whole of Gibraltar will want to join me in thanking them for their efficiency and hard work in what has been extremely difficult working conditions.
‘The Government has now held six Civil Contingency meetings with detailed plans and contingency measures put into action to ensure as much access to water as possible for our resident population. Water bowsers have come in from Spain this morning and this continuous 24-hour supply will be helpful in restoring levels once the new pipe is up and running. I have been in touch continuously with the Chief Minister who is fully briefed and aware of the situation and is in direct contact with all members of the Cabinet.’