Until the early 1970’s, potable water on Grand Cayman was obtained from ground water wells or rain water collected in cisterns. The island has five freshwater lenses, but by 1975, the ground water in two of the five fresh water lenses was contaminated by effluent from open-bottom cesspits, rendering them unusable. The ground water in the remaining fresh water lenses is protected and managed by the Water Authority, a statutory body established under the Water Authority Law of 1982. Without other sources of surface or ground water, the island needed an alternative supply of potable water, to meet the demands of its growing population.
Cayman Islands- RetailWater Case Study
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Cayman Water was first incorporated in 1973 after water and wastewater infrastructure assets were acquired by investors during the liquidation process of a planned community development called Governor’s Harbour on Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. These assets included seawater desalination machinery, a small water distribution pipeline network, a sewer system, and wastewater treatment plant.
Initially the Company served the existing customers in the Governor’s Harbour development but demand for piped potable water soon occurred outside of the original development area and the Company started to expand. Ad hoc extensions to the pipeline distribution network and expansion of the water production capacity were constructed when demand called for them and capital financing could be obtained. In addition to the pipeline demand, a large percentage of the Company’s water sales were to water truckers who took delivery of water from the Company’s production and storage facilities and delivered it by tanker to consumers around the Island not connected to the limited distribution network.
The Company operated in this manner for six years while it attempted to formalize with Government its position as a piped water utility. In 1979, the Company was granted its first 20-year licence by Government to produce potable water from seawater and distribute it for reward within its licence area. At the time this area encompassed the Seven Mile Beach.
In the late 1980s, Government initiated concerted efforts to expand piped water service to all areas of the Cayman Islands. As a result, Government itself undertook to secure water production capacity and construct a piped distribution network for the capital, Georgetown and districts east of the capital on Grand Cayman. In addition, a new 20-year licence agreement with Cayman Water was negotiated by Government which required that the Company extend its piped water service to the District of West Bay. Cayman Water has successfully provided high quality drinking water, reliably and economically to consumers under this current licence to the present.
Cayman Water, a wholly owned subsidiary of Consolidated Water Co. Ltd. (CWCO) provides potable water to approximately half the population of the island of Grand Cayman. The only private enterprise, shareholder owned piped water utility on Grand Cayman, Cayman Water owns and operates 4 sea water reverse osmosis desalination plants with a total capacity of almost 4 million US gallons per day and has over 6 million gallons of potable water storage. In 1973 when the Company was first incorporated the number of customers initially served by Cayman Water was only a few dozen. Now, potable water is distributed to over 6500 customer connections, serving a population of 25,000 to 30,000 people, including residential, commercial, tourism resort and Government customers within a licensed area.
Pursuant to a 20-year Licence granted to it in 1989, Cayman Water has the exclusive right to produce potable water from seawater and distribute it by pipes to its licence service area. This licence area includes the Seven Mile Beach area and West Bay District of Grand Cayman, two of the three most populated areas in the Cayman Islands. The pipeline system consists of approximately 93 miles of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe ranging in size from 2 inch diameter to 14 inch diameter pipe.
The late Honourable James M. Bodden, long serving elected member of the Cayman Islands’ Legislative Assembly and the country’s first National Hero, once commented in the Islands’ Parliament that the economic prosperity brought by the Islands’ considerable economic growth during the 1970s and 1980s could not have occurred without the piped water service provided by Cayman Water.