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Island seeing the benefits of spending on water collection

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IMPROVEMENTS to Guernsey’s water catchment are helping protect the island for the future, the local utility has said.

Longue Hougue is one of Guernsey Water’s reservoirs which, says capital delivery manager Mark Walker, inset, provides a high level of storage capacity. (Montage by Peter Frankland)

But now the company is looking to focus more on enhancing the pipe network.

The island’s reservoirs are once again at healthy storage levels, despite the summer’s heatwave.

After the prolonged dry spells of last summer, the amount in storage had dropped to a low of 72.4% by November.

However, thanks to more efficient water storage, and some heavy December downpours, 984 megalitres of water were collected – the equivalent of nearly 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools. This brought water levels back up to 93.5%.

This improved water collection is thanks to a 10- to 15-year investment into water catchment by Guernsey Water.

Capital delivery manager Mark Walker said the company had invested around £3m. over the past decade.

‘Water collection management and storage is absolutely essential for the island,’ he said.

The work involved installing screens to remove leaves, branches and other materials that previously blocked pipes, meaning water collection was reduced. Water would then overflow and drain away to the sea. The improvements mean water is constantly captured without the need for manual intervention.

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Mr Walker said this improved infrastructure meant Guernsey Water could respond more quickly to any rainfall and increase stocks over a relatively short period when it rains.

Unlike Jersey, which has a desalination plant that can help with water shortages, Guernsey only has water collection and storage as a method of obtaining drinking water.

‘Guernsey is fortunate to have a number of reservoirs which provide a high level of storage capacity for its population,’ Mr Walker said.

‘At full capacity, we have 11 months’ supply. This is more than the Jersey equivalent, who only have up to a five-month supply, and greater than most UK companies.’

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He said the utility’s main priority now was making the raw water pipe network more resilient.

‘This may result in further investment but at this stage it’s a little too early to put an accurate figure on this.’

Guernsey has a total water storage capacity of 4,385 megalitres – just over 1,750 Olympic swimming pools – and the island has an average daily demand of around 12.3 megalitres a day.

But despite the healthy position, Mr Walker urged islanders to use water wisely and to report any leaks or unknown increases in usage.

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