LWB invests in alternative power sources to avert water disruptions

Lilongwe water board

Since Monday, most areas in the city of Lilongwe have endured long periods without water supply in their homes and business premises which authorities attributed to the low tank levels caused by the power blackout from the Electricity Generation Company of Malawi (EGENCO)’s power challenges.

The effects of Cyclone Freddy did not spare the power generation sector which saw EGENCO unable to produce electricity at its Nkula and Tedzani power stations opting to shut-down its machines due to excessive flooding and debris in its machines.

Only health facilities were prioritised in the water disruptions to ensure continued service delivery to the public.

The no water situation irked residents as they feared the development posed a serious health threat considering the prevailing Cholera outbreak in the country.

Chief Executive officer Silli Mbewe says the Board understands the gravity of the no water situation and its impact and is doing whatever it can under the circumstances in line with its Business Continuity Plan.

One of the Board's reserve

An investment strategy for alternative power sources in the medium term for the main Water treatment works which requires up to 5 megawatts of energy supply has already been drawn by the Board.

For its outer pumping stations, the utility company already worked on and has alternative energy sources which include solar energy and standby generators in its secondary pumping and booster stations.

The initiative allows it to continue pumping as long as there is power supply at its primary production source Treatment Works 1 and 2 in Area 3.

At Mwenda pumping station which pumps to the southern parts of the city, the parastatal has a standby generator so too with Tsabango and Airwing pumping stations while Chikungu station is fully powered by solar. 

However the challenge lies where power is not available at the two main primary Treatment Plants, TW 1 and TW2, in Area 3.

Minister of Water Abida Mia captured during one of the tours of the board's facilities

“The energy requirement here is really huge and that's why through collaboration with ESCOM, there is a direct feeder line and which is mostly exempted from power rationing and outages.

“In the current understandable circumstances however, this feeder line cannot be exempted. LWB is already working on a long term solution to have an alternative energy source. And the investment is huge (about 10 Megawatts).  Meanwhile LWB is closely collaborating with ESCOM,” he said.

Wednesday afternoon LWB announced through an update that stable power was restored at 1420 hours at the Board’s Water treatment works in Area 3 and that pumping had resumed.

It further stated that water supply had started  to Areas 1, 2, 7 (Kawale) 8, (Mchesi), 17, 34, 35 (Kamuzu Barracks) part of Area 21, part of Area 22  and Area 36 with supply in the central and northern parts of the city expected to be restored by 6p.m.

“Given the current power generation challenges, water supply was prioritized to health facilities using water bowsers. However, having resumed pumping, water supply restoration has initially targeted cholera hotspot areas in the city. Private water bowsers have further been mobilized to compliment the Boards available water bowsers in the current situation as it works towards full water supply restoration in the city”.