Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Sumatra: water supplies under pressure


OXFAM ENGINEERS were this week working to restore reliable water supplies to Meulaboh, the north Sumatran west coast's largest settlement.

Before the tsunami the water treatment plant at Meulaboh operated at 80 litres/second for 18 hours a day to serve the 75,000 population. Now it functions at around one litre per second.

Oxfam's team has to make daily helicopter trips from Banda Aceh. It aims to increase capacity to around 40 litres/ second. This should be enough to serve the current population which has fallen substantially as a result of the disaster.

New Zealander Les Collins of Specialist Utility Maintenance is among the engineers on each flight.

'The earthquake had damaged the intake building and the raw water delivery main. The intake pipe was lost, ' he said.

'The ground underneath the building had liquefied and tilted and the pipeline route has about 2km of earthquake fissures along it.

'The plant is quite old but structurally sound and if it could get a source it could deliver water.

'The plan is to repair the raw water delivery main temporarily, lash up a generator where the pumps are and pump water through to the plant.' Two other plants in the town were flattened in the disaster, increasing the need to get the main plant up and running.

Collins estimated the cost of repairing the earthquake damage at around $500,000 (£263,000).

He predicted that much of the west coast's water supplies would be in a similar state.

Ian Lawrence in Banda Aceh

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.