Typical white painted roofs on homes and businesses collect rainwater for drinking water in Bermuda

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Water and wastewater servicing for St. George’s Parish considers level of service needs and climate change

Bermuda is an idyllic country with a population of approximately 65,000 people, located in the North Atlantic Ocean. St. George’s Parish, one of Bermuda’s nine parishes, is situated at the northeast end of the country’s chain of islands. St. George’s Parish has a population of approximately 6,400 residents living on the two islands, St. George’s Island and St. David’s Island.

In 2016, the Government of Bermuda embarked on a project to prepare a strategy for sustainable water and wastewater servicing for St. George’s Parish, and retained Associated Engineering to assist in preparing the strategy, with financial assessment and other assistance from local firms. 

Currently, three separate entities, the Government of Bermuda, the Bermuda Land Development Company Limited, and the Corporation of the Town of St. George, own and operate water and wastewater infrastructure in the parish. The Parish’s water and wastewater infrastructure requires repairs, and wastewater treatment is required.  Funding is required for capital works, and operations and maintenance.  

A large percent of the parish’s drinking water comes from rainwater. All buildings are required to collect rainwater from rooftops, which are connected to in-ground cisterns that provide drinking water and water for household needs. In addition, two existing water treatment plants in the parish treat brackish water, and provide additional drinking water to residents, and commercial and institutional users.

The parish’s existing water infrastructure is operating at capacity, with no reserve capacity to handle an expanded user base. However, several new developments are planned, and will require water and wastewater service, including a 220-unit hotel and golf resort on St. George’s Island, cruise ships, and the 70-unit St. George’s club. In addition, the Government wishes to expand its piped water distribution network; currently only servicing the Town of St. George and Southside, a part of St. David’s Island, have piped water service.

Project Manager, Rick Gabel, tells us, “One of our challenges is finding existing system data, drawings, and information, as well as financial data, which is needed to document the current system and status, and to develop capital and operational expenditures.” 

Our project team has produced a preliminary base model of the sewage collection system in order to understand the needs for pumping stations and forcemains. The terrain is hilly with a pronounced elevation rise from the shores.

As part of the development of the strategy, we have held three workshops with key stakeholders to determine the Government’s level of service expectations, roles and responsibilities, and servicing strategies. The first two of three planned Public Information Centres were held to present work completed to date and the potential servicing options. These include water treatment and distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, re-use of treated wastewater effluent for toilet flushing and irrigation, and potential governance models. The goal is to connect the two islands’ water and wastewater distribution systems, and have a unified wastewater collection system and wastewater treatment facility to share storage and capacity in the parish.

The third Public Information Centre will present the financial plan and preferred servicing alternatives. The Final Report will present the proposed systems, proposed governance model and regulatory body, a high-level financial plan, recommendations on water and wastewater modelling software and GIS platform, and proposed next steps.

Rick says, “We will consider climate change impacts when evaluating future needs, including treated water requirements during periods of low rainfall.” 

Key staff on the project include Rick Gabel, Stan Mathew, Owen James, and Lindsay Mooradian.