Ionics and Williams Industries Announce Dedication of Largest Brackish Water Desalination Facility in Caribbean

Updated 5:02 PM ET June 13, 2000

WATERTOWN, Mass., June 12 /PRNewswire/ -- In Barbados, West Indies on June 10, Ionics, Incorporated and Barbados-based Williams Industries, Inc. participated, along with local officials, in the dedication of the largest brackish water desalination facility in the Caribbean. The Honorable Rommel Marshall, Minister of Public Works and Transport, officiated.

The new water desalination plant will provide fresh, potable drinking water to one-sixth of the island's 264,000 people. The 30,000 cubic meter per day (7.9 million gallons per day) plant utilizes reverse osmosis (RO) membrane technology.

In conjunction with the new desalination facility, a water education centre was also established which will serve as a venue for school children, island visitors and the general public to learn about water, its history on the island, and the role of water desalination.

At the dedication ceremony, Minister Rommel indicated, "In spite of what many think, Barbados, with its reputation for an excellent water supply, is classified by the United Nations Commission on Water as a "water scarce" country, putting it just ahead of the desert nations of the Middle East for per capita water availability, and making it extremely vulnerable to the effects of cyclical droughts. The drought of 1994-1995 served to put the nation on notice that no longer could we continue to take our water supply for granted, and that it was necessary for us to take very serious stock of the situation."

According to the Chairman of the Barbados Water Authority (BWA), Mr. David Millington, "The Barbados Government was determined that the island's economic development would not be held back by the lack of availability of fresh water."

Desalinated water is being provided to the BWA on a "build-own-operate" or privatized basis by Ionics Freshwater Ltd., a joint venture between Ionics and Williams Industries. Under the terms of the agreement, Ionics Freshwater Ltd. will operate and maintain the facility and sell the desalinated water to the BWA for a period of up to 15 years.

"This facility is now our most secure source of potable water, being technologically capable of providing pure water over a wide variation in quality of feedwater supplies and, in the event of a national disaster, which of course we hope and pray will never occur, would be the one source likely to suffer least. In many respects this plant becomes a safety net, without which we have been doing our balancing acts for too long," according to Minister Rommel.

Ralph S. Williams, Chairman of Williams Industries said, "Our company's motto is "working to build a stronger nation" and since we know that a nation cannot be strong without an adequate supply of clean, fresh water, we jumped at the opportunity to strengthen our nation when this project was put out to international tender. This desalination plant represents a true spirit of real, practical on the ground cooperation between a major US corporation and a local company. We believe we could not possibly have chosen a better partner in Ionics."

Arthur L. Goldstein, Ionics' Chairman and CEO noted that, "We are very proud to be a member of the team that put this project together. The success of any project of this type - where we are entrusted with a responsibility to the public to supply a principal resource, water, - depends upon a healthy relationship based upon trust and mutual respect. Among the Barbados Water Authority, Williams Industries and Ionics, I believe we have that healthy relationship."

Mr. Goldstein announced at the official opening ceremony that Ionics, Incorporated would be awarding a scholarship to a student pursuing studies in the field of science and technology at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus, "consistent both with the company's commitment to Barbados and to the value placed on educating our youth, particularly in the disciplines of science and engineering."

Background Information

Ionics, Incorporated, over a period of more than 50 years, has built more desalination plants than any other company in the world. The company has been a pioneering innovator in the concept of privatization with "build-own- operate" facilities, supplying desalinated water to municipal and industrial clients throughout the Caribbean as well as to major portions of communities in California, Florida, Texas and the Canary Islands. In addition to water desalination, Ionics is involved in every aspect of the water business including ultrapure water, industrial water and wastewater treatment, consumer point-of-use/point-of-entry devices, Aqua Cool(R) Pure Bottled Water, and water quality monitoring solutions.

Williams Industries is a diversified Barbados-based company doing business throughout the Caribbean. Williams' scope includes investments in manufacturing, electrical contracting, steel, hardware and lumber supply, equipment rental, farming, tourism, real estate development and, now water desalination through its Ionics Freshwater Ltd. joint venture with Ionics, Incorporated.