From Iceland — Water Supply To Westman Islands Badly Damaged, Alert Phase Declared

Water Supply To Westman Islands Badly Damaged, Alert Phase Declared

Published November 28, 2023

Photo by
Dominika Milek

There is a danger that the water supply to the Westman Islands will be cut off  after being damaged on Nov. 18 by an anchor dragged by the trawler Huginn VE. The National Commissioner of Police, in consultation with the Chief of Police in the Westman Islands Karl Gauti Hjaltason, has declared an alert phase around the situation, reports RÚV.

A statement from the National Commissioner of Police states that the damage is extensive and serious.

“The damage covers over 300 meters of the water supply. Submarine images also show that the water supply has moved significantly from its original position. This situation makes emergency repairs difficult. The only lasting solution is a new water supply.”

Up to 10 days of water supply

Though it is unclear how long the current pipes will hold out, the water supply to the Westman Islands is still operational and meeting the needs of residents. There is also a 5,000 tonne supply on the islands that would supply drinking water for another week, should the pipelines give way. As such, authorities say there is no need to conserve or collect water at this time. The residents will be informed immediately if there is a change in the situation and if they need to take any measures.

Karl Gauti told the national broadcaster he hopes the pipeline will hold until a new one is laid. However, it is not possible to rely on it, and it is impossible to estimate how long the pipeline will last.

“But mainly, we are thinking about the district heating system and keeping it running. And with these supplies we have, we will be able to keep it running for maybe a week, 10 days, two weeks,” Karl says.

Evacuation plans being made

Preparations and evacuation plans are being made, Karl Gauti says. It includes moving the most vulnerable groups, patients, and the elderly, to the mainland. However, it is assumed that people can stay on the island until the new pipeline is installed.

Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar) is an archipelago off Iceland’s south coast, with the island of Heimaey being the largest and only inhabited island.

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