New Rio Cobre Pipeline Failing to deliver - internal audit
Even as National Water Commission (NWC) customers are expected to see an increase in their bills, a special audit has found that there is a deficit in water production figures for the new Rio Cobre pipeline installed by the agency.
The audit is of the Jamaica Water Supply Improvement Project, under which the Rio Cobre pipeline replacement project was commissioned.
"A flow measurement of the pipeline was conducted ... which concluded that the flow increase was negligible between the pre-pipeline and post pipeline works and the average increase between the two is 1.29 million gallons per day (MGD)," audit documents obtained by The Gleaner said.
The Rio Cobre pipeline improvement project, which was completed at a cost of US$22 million, was intended to replace asbestos-ridden cement pipes and to correct physical network water losses of up to two MGD.
According to the design philosophy of the project, "sections of the pipeline were increased from a nominal diameter of 600mm to 800mm to bolster its hydraulic yield which will ultimately supply additional water to the Kingston Metropolitan Area". The project design further envisioned that 16.9MGD of additional water would have been expected from the Ferry node of the pipeline once it was replaced. The audit, conducted by the NWC's internal audit team found, however, that the new pipeline has actually not supplied the additional water promised.
"It can be concluded that the works undertaken on the Rio Cobre pipeline, remedied the pre-existing leaks and replaced aged asbestos pipes, but failed to supply additional water in excess of the corrected leak amounts," the audit report said. The report further noted that if the 16.9 MGD of additional water was actually realised from the new pipes at the Ferry node, an additional 15,350 households could have been served by the Rio Cobre pipeline which services communities in large sections of Spanish Town, Portmore and the southwestern sections of Kingston and St Andrew.
Charles Buchanan, NWC communications manager, has, however, dismissed the conclusions reached by the audit and argued that the 1.29 MGD increased flows gained from the new pipelines is not negligible. He argued that power supply to the sources and illegal connections are two issues being addressed which have been affecting the production levels.
"The National Water Commission believes that significant value for money was obtained in this component of the project. The project achieved its objective of eliminating leaks and a reduction in the repeated breaks on a most important transmission main," he said.