Water rationing continues as storage tanks are filled

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ST. THOMAS - Most WAPA water customers were scheduled to have running water Monday night, nine weeks after water rationing began on St. Thomas, V.I. Water and Power Authority Executive Director Hugo Hodge Jr. said.

Some areas in the East End fed by the Donoe Hill tank had low water pressure Monday, however, while the utility replenished enough storage to push water down the line, Hodge said.

"That's all being resolved as we speak," Hodge said.

WAPA has rationed water since Nov. 15, when Unit 11, a steam-generating boiler, sprang leaks and left 5,500 customers on St. Thomas without regularly scheduled water for nine weeks.

The rationing is scheduled to continue with customers receiving water only from 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. this week in Bovoni, Tutu High Rise and Bergs Home housing communities and in Estate Thomas, Altona, Contant Knolls and Lindbergh Bay.

Monday marked the first day of classes for public school students after the holiday break, and the V.I. Education Department had no interruptions because of water problems, said spokeswoman Ananta Pancham.

Some residents have continued reporting discolored water flowing from their taps and expressing concerns with the impact the water would have on their health.

While the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency analyze WAPA water quality reports taken internally, the water is not checked at all homes on the public water system.

"The faucets themselves aren't tested for bacteria, but the water from faucets in the distribution system are," said EPA Press Officer John Martin.

WAPA initially provided water to customers for four hours in the morning and the evening, but as repairs progressed in the following weeks, that schedule was cut to two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening.

Repairs to Unit 21, a waste-heat recovery boiler, were completed Thursday night and revived at least two of the Harley Plant's aging desalination units, which produced 1.5 million gallons Friday.

Seven temporary reverse osmosis units on Monday pumped 1.75 million gallons, doubling production to more than 3 million gallons per day.

The eighth reverse osmosis unit will be brought online by today, Hodge said.

St. Thomas requires an average of 1.8 million gallons per day.

A long-term plan to bring permanent reverse osmosis production is in place, and permanent reverse osmosis production is scheduled to be online by late 2012.

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