Maldives says capital's water to be restored next week

AP News
Posted: Dec 10, 2014 6:38 AM

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Water supply in Maldives' capital, cut by a fire last week in its only treatment plant, won't be fully restored until next week, a government official said Wednesday.

Bottled water is being distributed and some water is available by pipe, though low pressure remains a problem for more than 100,000 residents, government minister Mohamed Shareef told reporters in Sri Lanka.

He said he is "relatively confident" that "relative normalcy" will be restored in the coming week.

Shareef said piped water is being provided for two to three hours twice a day, in the morning and afternoon. However, low pressure means that only the first two or three floors of high-rise buildings can been served.

Maldives is known for its luxurious island resorts, and the country's economy is heavily reliant on tourism. Shareef said the water crisis is limited to the capital, Male, because tourist resorts have their own reverse osmosis plants and separate water supplies.

Male is located on a low-lying island with no natural water source and depends entirely on treated seawater. The fire last week shut down its only desalination plant.

Officials have yet to determine the cause of the fire, but an initial assessment indicated it was probably an electrical failure, Shareef said.

India, Sri Lanka, China and Bangladesh have helped by contributing bottled water, and India and China have sent floating desalination plants.