At least 32 participants of a 5-day workshop in Monrovia (Sept. 26-30) organized by the International Water Association (IWA) have been told to establish Water Safety Plan (WSP) bodies in their organizations to ensure the provision of safe drinking water to the public.
A Water Safety Plan (WSP) is a comprehensive risk assessment and risk management approach that encompasses all steps in water supply from the catchment to the consumer.
Facilitator Unathi Jack from the South Africa-based water and environmental engineering services firm, Emanti, said the importance of safe drinking water to the public makes it necessary for the participants to draw up management principles from the workshop that could benefit Liberia.
She said the WSP approach, developed by the International Water Association (IWA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), is applicable to all types of water supply systems.
“The WSP involves preventive risk analysis and risk management from catchment to the point of use because the public health can be protected by knowing the supply system thoroughly, understanding utility staff’s roles, and being aware of what problems may occur before taking action to control them,” she said.
Ms. Jack told the gathering, including students from the University of Liberia, UMU, Red Cross, Liberia Water & Sewer Corporation, among others, that WSP’s objectives are “minimizing contamination in source waters, reducing or removing contamination by treatment and preventing contamination during storage, distribution and handling.”
The interactive session discussed the proliferation of mineral water companies in the country that many said are yet to follow effective health methods in their production of water for the general public.
A manual developed by IWA/WHO that was presented to every participant describes a modular 11-step approach on which the training package is based.
The workshop aims at providing better understanding of WSP and the participants will become aware of their roles in the provision of safe drinking water to consumers.
The participants are being helped to learn cost saving measures in reducing or eliminating any unnecessary monitoring and testing as well as reducing the need for treatment or improving maintenance and communication with stakeholders and management in the operations of a water facility.
The workshop has several case study materials as discussion points of interest in several major cities in the world. However, they have been asked to learn the principles and see how best they can guide participants in developing local content.
The participants are divided into groups of four to examine and provide answers to particular cases of interest, with emphasis on key points on practical applications in the Liberian context.
IWA’s Program Officer Dr. Silas Mvulirwenande played a supervisory role in the discussions and was often required to provide clarity where necessary.
On the opening day Monday September 26, Assistant Minister for Community Services at the Ministry of Public Works, Mr. George Yargo, expressed the Liberian government’s appreciation for the IWA workshop and called on the participants to take advantage of the program.