On Monday May 4th, Miya, a world leader in efficient water management, is partnering with the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association, to discuss how the Caribbean countries, and in particular, the water industry, are responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The webinar: "COVID-19 - Caribbean and global impact and response", which is directed towards water and wastewater personnel operating in the utility sector, will take place at 10 am (GMT-4).
We speak with Noam Komy, Miya’s Chief Growth Officer, to learn a bit more about the webinar.
Question: How is the Caribbean dealing with the situation resulting from the impact of COVID-19?
Answer: Based on the experience gathered by countries facing the COVID-19 pandemic, the Caribbean countries quickly responded to mitigate the spread of the virus in the area. Initiatives such as the ones below were carried out:
- International arrivals were cancelled, as it was seen that the virus was been brought in from abroad, either by sea or by air.
- Restrictions steadily increased on the local populations until a "stay at home" mandate was issued.
- Banks, groceries, pharmacies and hardware stores remained open. All other types of stores were closed.
- Restaurants, gyms, cinemas, churches and any other places of congregation were closed.
- Some islands even restricted the days people could visit the open stores by the first letter of their last name.
- Water utilities are not allowed to disconnect customers for non-payment of bills. In fact many disconnected customers have been reconnected.
- The islands that relied on tourism for the bulk of their revenue suffered from the closure of all the hotels and ban on cruise ship arrivals.
- Water utilities suffered from reduced revenues from the decreased flows to hotels, restaurants, pools, cruise ships, etc.
- Innovative ways to have customers pay their water bills are being formulated.
- Testing has increased as the end of quarantines are being considered.
Q: How is Covid-19 affecting the water usage within the utility company?
A: What we have seen are unique scenarios that compare only to important holidays such as the Christmas period. The situation is worsened in the Caribbean due to the strong reliance on tourism. This unique situation that has been experienced around the world over the past 4 to 6 weeks whereby all but essential industrial consumption has stopped, causing financial impact on the water companies.
One water company quoted that since lockdown and over a 4-week period of minimal industrial consumption the annual turnover will be reduced by 6%. But this figure can very massively in other utilities.
The domestic consumption patterns have also changed considerably. No longer can we see peaks occurring over a 1-hour period in the morning. Instead, this peak is being spread over 3 hours due to the new waking and getting up from bed patterns.
Domestic consumption has increased during the day time hours. This increment is causing issues for certain water companies in the ability to supply water during this period, and pumping regimes are having to adjust to suit. This increased pumping during the day time hours is putting extra stress on the pipes, which in turn, can cause higher pressures and more pipeline bursts.
We do expect that this is a short-term impact that will be removed once economical and social life go back to normal.
Q: Next Monday May 4th a webinar will be held on “COVID-19: The Caribbean and the Global perspective" organised by Miya and the Caribbean Water and Sanitation Association. What are the objectives of this webinar?
A: First of all, we would like to learn and to share how the Caribbean countries are weathering the challenges of Covid-19.
We also believe this is an excellent opportunity to create a voice for the Caribbean community by promoting their needs and solutions to water management.
Moreover, it is an honor to be joining forces with CWWA, the most influential organization in the Caribbean area, consisting of water professional leaders in the public and private sectors.
Together, we will discuss and find solutions to avoid actual and future crises.
Q: Who will be participating?
A: The participants are:
- Noam Komy, Chief Growth Officer of Miya Water
- Arantxa Mencia, VP Business Development of Almar Water Solutions
- Stuart Hamilton, Chair IWA WLSG (International Water Association)
- Wayne Williams, Executive Director CWWA (Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association)
- Christopher Husbands, General Manager of Grenada NAWASA (National Water and Sewerage Authority). President of CAWASA (Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association)
- Roland Liemberger – International expert in NRW planning
Q: Finally, why do you think water professionals should attend your Webinar?
A: This webinar is a must for all water and wastewater personnel operating in the utility sector and will be both informative and beneficial – this webinar is aimed at supervisors, managers, directors and decision makers from the water and wastewater utility arena be it from either the public or private sector.