GUMA @ 62 & the Future of Water Supply in the Western Area

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Conventional water supply in the Freetown Municipality started with the creation of the Freetown Waterworks on 16th December 1901 by an Ordinance of Parliament “for the purpose of providing Freetown with a supply of water, proper and sufficient, for public and private purposes”.

Sixty years later, the Freetown Waterworks Ordinance of 1901 was repealed and replaced by the Guma Valley Water Company Ordinance on 14th April 1961.

The 1961 Ordinance that created the Guma Valley Water Company has also been repealed and replaced by the Guma Valley Water Company Act No. 6 of 8th June 2017.

Whereas as the Freetown Waterworks Ordinance of 1901 and the Guma Valley Water Company Ordinance of 1961 limit the area of supply to between Sussex and Allen Town; the Guma Valley Water Company Act No. 6 of 2017 expanded the mandate of the company to cover the whole of the Western Area with a population of over 1.5 million residents.

The Guma Valley Water Company relies principally on a single source, the Guma Dam, with over 90% of the total water supply to Freetown supplied from the Guma Dam and the Guma Water Treatment Plant at Mile 13.

Other sources include Kongo Dam, Sugar Loaf, Charlotte Weir, Blue Cemetery, White Water, etc.; however, all these secondary sources are seasonal and only supply during the rainy season to early dry season period.

Over the years, Guma Valley Water Company has faced various challenges in providing reliable water supply to the people, including inadequate funding, aging infrastructure, encroachment and deforestation of water catchments and climate change.

Despite these challenges, the company has continued to work towards improving its operations and expanding its services to meet the growing demand for water supply in the Western Area.

Guma Valley Water Company have over the years undertaken extensive laying of submains to many communities to control the massive leakages in the Western Area totaling about 20km which represents an increase of 240% since 2018 and this has ensured that the distribution mains can retain more water leading to more people receiving the service.

On access to water supply, there has been considerable improvements in terms of service reliability and predictability as a result of the robust daily rationing schedule that has been in place since April 2019; customers and consumers now know the times they should receive water supply and they will call if there is any delay especially in our opening times.

The Company has also increased its customer base from 22,000 in 2018 to 24,000 in 2022 representing a 10% increase.

Guma Valley Water Company have increased it revenue by 50% since 2018 and doubled its output since 2016.

The ProPoor and Community Services Unit of the Company is being expanded and working with communities that are either underserved or unserved.

The Unit is currently implementing a 3-year Water Operators Partnership Program funded by the European Union and UN Habitat with Ghana Water Company Limited and VEI (a consortium of water utilities in the Netherlands).

The objective is to make the unserved visible and build the capacity to engage and transform the unserved to be served in a sustainable way. The partnership also aims to contribute towards the SDG 6 targets by embracing the “leave no one behind” principle by fully catering for low-income communities and customers.

The ProPoor and Community Services Unit is currently operating about 272 Street Taps, 566 Community Tanks, 55 Solar Powered Boreholes and has a fleet of over 20 bowsers to cart water to underserved and unserved communities.

The Company is now leveraging ICT and has acquired over 40 new vehicles. Hand and Power tools, Compressors, Jack Hammers, Forklift Trucks, Motor Cycles, etc., have also been acquired to improve on work place environment coupled with health and safety safeguards.

The Company recently completed a few projects such as the Freetown Emergency Recovery Project, the Freetown Water Supply Rehabilitation Project and the Freetown Water Supply and Sanitation Master Plan.

It is also currently undertaking several projects such as the Freetown WASH and Aquatic Environment Revamping Project, Mambo, Hamilton and Waterloo New Gravity Schemes which will rehabilitate existing infrastructure and also build new ones to improve on the current water supply situation in the Western Area.

As stated earlier, the current status of most functional water infrastructure in Freetown is characterized as aged and of insufficient capacity to cover current demand. The current main water source (Guma valley dam) has a reliable yield of 80,000,000 liters per day, the non-revenue water is assumed to be in the range of 40%.

The projected demand for 2030 is approximately 300,000,000 liters per day.

Consequently, the current water demand has been quadrupled with the available supply needs.

The Freetown Water Supply and Sanitation Master Plan recently completed and launched have several interventions to help mitigate sustainably the challenging water supply situation in the Western Area for the next 30 years (up to 2050).

 The interventions range from the construction of dams, water treatment plants, transmission, and distribution infrastructures throughout the supply area.

These interventions if funded will bring water supply to all inhabitants of the capital city Freetown and peri-urban communities, reduce the incidence of waterborne diseases, support economic growth, and ensure that children spend more time in schools instead of fetching water from unprotected sources, and women and girls remain within the safety of their homes than going in search of water at night.

As Guma Valley Water Company celebrates 62 years of providing water supply to residents of Greater Freetown, the Board of Directors and Management reaffirm the company’s commitment “to provide for the sustainable supply of water for public and private purposes” and striving to provide access to safe, affordable and sustainable water for all residents in the Western Area by 2028 and beyond.

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