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Title: Environmental impact assessment for the proposed water supply system in Vilufushi, Thaa Atoll
Authors: CDE Consulting
Keywords: Water production supply system
Reverse Osmosis plant
Legislative and regulatory considerations
Existing physical environment
Existing biological environment
Existing terrestrial environment
Existing marine environment
Environmental impacts
Mitigation measures
Environmental management plan
Environmental monitoring plan
Environmental impact assessments
Issue Date: Jul-2016
Citation: CDE Consulting. (2016). Environmental impact assessment for the proposed water supply system in Vilufushi, Thaa Atoll. Male': Maldives
Abstract: The purpose of this document is to fulfil the requirements to get necessary environmental clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency to install the proposed Water Production Supply System at Vilufushi, Thaa. Atoll. The proponent of this project is Ministry of Environment and Energy. The main rationale for the project is to improve the health condition and quality of life of residents of Th.Vilufushi by establishing a proper potable water supply system that will provide clean and safe water for the residents of Vilufushi. The project is intended at providing an integrated water supply system covering rainwater and desalinated water production and supply. The proposed project involves installation and establishment of two 6,500 litres/hour reverse osmosis plant systems that consist of construction of tube well to supply raw water for the RO plants, construction of elevated water storage tanks, construction of brine discharge outfall and house connections. Furthermore, the project aims at laying of separate pipe networks for water distribution, rainwater collection and rainwater treatment system. Duration of the project is approximately 18 months. Currently the island population sources water from shallow wells constructed at individual households or in public areas. This is supplemented by collection of rainwater. These methods provide inadequate quantity and unacceptable quality due to the over abstraction and the unreliability of rainwater harvesting. All project activities will be in conformance to the laws and regulations of the Maldives, and relevant international conventions that Maldives is party to. The key laws and regulations applicable to this project are: Environmental Protection and Preservation Act, Environmental Impact Assessment Regulation 2012, Desalination Systems Regulations, and Waste Management Regulation 2013. The existing condition of the island and the proposed RO plant site was assessed for this report. Assessments conducted include marine assessments at the proposed brine outfall and alternative outfall locations. Groundwater quality and baseline noise level measurements were also taken. The assessments showed that there is no marine protected or environmentally sensitive site in the area and locations proposed for brine outfall showed mostly dead rock and rubble. The assessment shows that the RO systems can be developed on the island with limited implications on the environment. The assessment shows that the proposed developments involve significant impacts on the marine environment due to brine outfall construction, brine discharge, ground excavation and operation of vehicles and machinery. The project also involves moderately significant health and safety risks due to equipment handling and pollution. However, the predicted impacts can be minimized considerably with the proposed mitigation measures. Significant impacts of operation stage include marine degradation due to brine discharge, increased GHG emissions due to RO plant and operation of pumps stations, and increased cost of living due to additional cost in purchasing water. The assessment shows that the proposed project has many positive impacts including improved quality and accessibility to potable water, protection of groundwater aquifer, reduction of water related disaster risk, and increased employment and business opportunities The alternatives evaluated for the project is the alternative brine outfall location. The “No Project” option has also been explored and this option is not deemed preferable, given the current condition of portable water. An alternative site for brine outfall on the southwest corner was also explored against the present option and the alternative option was recommended. Monitoring plan is designed to assess any changes to the coral reef environment of the island, ground and marine water quality as these are the key areas that will be impacted from this project. Monitoring costs is estimated at USD 5,000 per annum. The management plan for this project is designed to produce a framework for anticipated impacts, including practicable and achievable performance requirements and systems for monitoring, reporting and implementing corrective actions. In addition provide evidence of compliance to legislation, policies, guidelines and requirements of relevant authorities. Stakeholder consultations were held with Vilufushi Island council, FENAKA, Vilufushi public and Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure. A willingness-to-pay survey was also conducted during field assessments. Both Vilufushi Island Council and public highlighted the need for a potable water supply system on the island. Vilufushi public is also willing to pay for the service. Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure stated they have laid duct lines to facilitate pipeline installations. Since the roads are already sealed with asphalt the public and the Council would like to see the road resealed to the original state of the road. In conclusion, this project has been designed in conformance to the relevant laws and regulations of Maldives but requires final approval from EPA for the detailed drawings. The most significant impacts are expected to be short-term impacts for the construction phase. Operational stage impacts are mainly limited to brine outfall location and emission due to power generation. However, mitigation measures have been proposed to adequately minimise these significant impacts. Overall, the project will have positive impacts to the island community of Vilufushi.
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