Press Releases

Default text size Larger text size Even larger text size   print
RSS feed
< Back to Main

St. Thomas Seawater Reverse Osmosis Dedication

(Monday, August 12, 2013)

 The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority and Seven Seas Water Corporation announce the grand opening and dedication of the Seawater Reverse Osmosis (SWRO) Facility, at the Randolph E. Harley power plant on St. Thomas on Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at 10 a.m. 

 WAPA has been reliably producing potable water by thermal desalination units for over 30 years but it is a process that is dependent on the burning of fuel oil.  While the multi-effect distillation technology was viable in the past given the low cost of fuel, the volatile tendencies of the fuel oil market over the last several decades has made water production quite costly for the Authority.  After extensive research of the options that would result in the lowest production cost for potable water, while simultaneously maintaining high water quality for customers, seawater reverse osmosis was chosen as the technology that would best meet the needs of the Authority and its customers. SWRO is now used to replace thermal desalination plants across the world because the new technology can provide a more reliable and much lower cost water supply. The reverse osmosis process pushes sea water through a very fine membrane at high pressure. The filter separates the water molecules from the salt ions, creating purified drinking water.

 In 2012, WAPA signed a 20 year Build Own Operate (BOO) agreement with Seven Seas to construct a SWRO system on St. Thomas to meet the demand of servicing its 5,000 plus customers.  The new facility which began construction in July 2012, is built with state of the art technology. Under the BOO agreement, Seven Seas managed all aspects of the project from the onset with no upfront capital requirements from the Authority and is completely responsible for the operations of the water plant. 

 WAPA has been utilizing RO plants to produce water since 2009 when several units were installed in St. Croix’s Richmond Plant proactively on a short term basis to address potential water shortages on that island. In 2012, after a permanent contract was negotiated, several more temporary RO units were installed in St. Thomas’s Randolph Harley power plant when malfunctioning generators limited the utility’s ability to produce drinking water for St. Thomas and St. John customers. Seven Seas Corporation constructed and has successfully operated the facilities which have resulted in a consistent water supply and in substantial rate savings for customers.  The new SWRO system at the Randolph E. Harley Plant is capable of producing a guaranteed supply of up to 3.3 million gpd (gallons per day) of water for potable use, with the capability of expanding to 4.4 million gpd, and an additional 500,000 gpd of Ultra-Pure Water (UPW) for plant internal processing and applications.  WAPA customer demand in the St. Thomas district is approximately 2 million gpd. The RO system will produce potable water that meets all local and federal applicable Safe Drinking Water Standards.  

 Additional RO facilities are under construction at the Richmond plant and will be completed by October 2013.

 For more information contact or call 774-3552 extensions 2050 or 2065.