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I didn’t take BiWater to Cabinet all those years ago - Fraser

I didn’t take BiWater to Cabinet all those years ago - Fraser

Opposition legislator Julian Fraser has denied being responsible for introducing the controversial water-purchase agreement known as BiWater during his time in office as Works Minister more than a decade ago.

“By the way, I was not the one who took BiWater to Cabinet, but that is all water under the bridge,” Fraser stated during the budget debate this week.

But even as Fraser declined to say who brought the now thorny issue to Cabinet, the veteran legislator sought to highlight the massive amounts of monies and water now being wasted by the Water & Sewerage Department (WSD).

Government, he said, pours $27 million into WSD each year to purchase water but the department only collects $3.5 million in return from usage, Fraser said.

Fraser said there is actually some $21 million unaccounted for each year.

“Some heads need to roll,” the legislator argued. “How could you make $21 million disappear and not know where it’s gone?” he asked.

“We are the worst set of stewards that I have ever seen—stewards of the public purse,” he added.

Millions of gallons wasted

According to Fraser, the water treatment plant at Paraquita Bay produces some 2.3 million gallons of water each day but only 1.9 million gallons of this amount is actually used and this means there are 400,000 gallons of water either not being produced or being wasted.

Fraser insisted that the long-standing issue is not something he was singling out the current Virgin Islands Party (VIP) administration for, but said from here on they will be blamed if the issue does not manage to get fixed.

Dilapidated infrastructure is the problem

Works & Utilities Minister Kye Rymer acknowledged the challenges faced by the WSD but pointed to its aged and dilapidated infrastructure as the source of the trouble.

He said there were frequent leaks and breaks to the water line and said this is something the department faces daily, with water losses since the 2017 hurricanes amounting to about 80 percent.

Rymer blamed these breaks and leaks for the constant water interruptions to customers and water losses being experienced by the territory.

As a measure of mitigation, he said the government has placed great emphasis on enhancing the distribution networks throughout the territory.


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