THE construction of facilities to redirect sewage from four wastewater plants in Portmore to the Soapberry sewage treatment plant could take about two years, based on responses from the National Water Commission (NWC).
Answering questions posed by Our Habitat, NWC corporate communications manager Charles Buchanan said the Commission is awaiting bids that have been invited via the local newspapers in early March before the project can start. Those bids are expected to be submitted on or before June 28, 2012.
In the published invitation, the NWC indicated its intention to “construct conveyance facilities to redirect the sewage that now flows to four of its wastewater plants in Portmore, to the Soapberry Wastewater Treatment Plant”. The four plants earmarked are Independence City, Bridgeport, Hamilton Gardens and Caymanas Gardens.
The project will be financed under NWC’s K-Factor programme and will be implemented using a design-build arrangement, but Buchanan declined putting a pricetag on the project as the proposals were still being accepted.
In keeping with government procurement and contracting guidelines, the NWC will proceed with preparatory and implementation activities after the proposals are received, evaluated and selected. It is expected that the actual project will be implemented within 18 months of the finalisation of contracting details, Buchanan stated.
Assuming the contracting details take six months to be finalised, it could be about two years before sewage from the Portmore plants are channelled to Soapberry.
The Soapberry facility, located south of Mandela Highway and bordered by Hunt’s Bay, is located on 133 hectares (333 acres) of land and consists of a series of ponds in which raw sewage from Kingston is oxidised, resulting in solid matter settling to the bottom and clear treated water flowing to the sea.
Completed in 2008 at a cost of US$50 million, Soapberry was touted to arrest the pollution of the Kingston Harbour.
The National Environment and Planning Agency 2009-10 annual report described Portmore sewage treatment plants as discharging “poorly treated sewage effluent” into the Rio Cobre, which in turn goes to the Kingston Harbour.
According to the NWC, the Soapberry plant is “presently operating at approximately 60 per cent of its capacity as about 10 million gallons of wastewater is being collected and treated each day while the plant has a capacity of 16.5 million gallons.
The Commission also disclosed that “in addition to the increasing flows to be directed to Soapberry by the Portmore and Kingston Metropolitan Area sewerage development projects, it is proposed that Soapberry will be expanded in the next three to seven years”.