Serious water shortage in Gibraltar due to fire and rockfall

Emergency meeting between Government, Governor and utility services

Emergency meeting between Government, Governor and utility services Credit: Gibraltar Government

SERIOUS water shortage in Gibraltar due to fire and rockfall sees water bowsers on the streets and cutting off of fresh water overnight from July 29.

The fire which took several days to put out started earlier in the week in Power’s Drive Tunnel which is used as storage but as Acting Chief Minister Joseph Garcia told GBC News, there was no electricity in the tunnel which suggests arson or an accident.

Gibraltar doesn’t have enough fresh water from natural sources so that it has to rely on its catchment and most drinking water is created from sea water which is pumped to a special plant near to the site of the fire.

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.

As a result of damage to the pipe supplying salt water to the RO plant, it has been unable to produce fresh water and 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.

Fresh water is therefore being disconnected every evening between 00:30 and 7am to both save on the current water supply and increase the water pressure available although toilets in many buildings use sea water.

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 five 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.

In the meantime, as well as bowsers, water has been imported from Spain and a limited number of bottles of drinking water are being made available to residents.

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 and fresh tap water is being made available for collection from a site set up exclusively for this purpose.

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