Today, the Water Services Corporation will begin working on repairs to the drainage pipe system on the seabed, which is used to dispose of the sewage treated by the Gozo plant.
The delicate operation should take around three weeks and is expected to cost around half a million Euro.
Illegal dumping, especially of animal waste, into the Gozitan sewage system has completely blocked a pipe on the seabed which is used to dispose of treated sewage and as a result, the last part of the pipe broke in half and needs to be changed.
WSC’s Chief Executive, Richard Bilocca explained that the plant at Ras il-Ħobż in Għajnsielem is emptying the treated sewage at a depth of 4o metres rather than at 90 metres, as it was designed to do.
“These repairs are essential. It is a very complex operation. We took our time to take the necessary precautions to find a contractor, naturally by tender, with whom we are happy, and our mind is at rest that he will do a good job which will take into consideration the safety aspects of all those involved, since this is very dangerous work.”
Mr Bilocca explained that the whole process will take between 3 – 4 weeks, with the work on the pipe itself expected to take ten days. He added that this is a sensitive operation because divers are expected to dive at a depth of 80 metres.
“There is special equipment known as decompression hyperbaric equipment which is very complicated, as it needs to be carried on to the site. After it is taken there, further investigation will take place, a kind of submarine – remote operated vehicle, for the divers who are going to carry out this work to carefully study the pipe themselves, and then we will put the new piece of pipe which is gong to be installed into the sea – which will take about ten days – while a diffuser will also be attached. This is like a nozzle with three holes which will be attached to the end of the pipe, and every litre of treated water which comes out of the plant needs to be mixed with five litres of sea water, before it is released.”
This operation will be carried out by 19 employees with specialised skills, including a team of ten foreign divers. He explained that two of the divers will be spending around 5 days inside the hyperbaric chamber.
The CEO of the corporation stressed the importance of not throwing illegal material into the sewage system.
“One needs to understand what we would be ruining by doing this: in other words, we are not ruining a pipe which belongs to the Water Services, but ruining the quality of our seawater, as well as the diving industry in Gozo, and we would also be ruining the one thing the country depends the most on, which is the sea.”