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Wastewater comes clean at Water Authority plant

Water is essential to life, but globally, more than 650 million people are living without access to a clean supply.

Here in Cayman, it’s easy to take it for granted. We turn the faucet and clean, drinkable water flows. We flush the toilet without thinking of where the wastewater goes.

“This is human waste, and it needs to be treated before being discharged,” said wastewater engineer Gary Phillips.

Water Authority Cayman says 2.2 to 2.3 million gallons of raw sewage flows through the headworks of its wastewater treatment plant every single day.

“We have about 30 pump stations and they all work together to bring all the waste water from the homes, restaurants, hotels here to the treatment works,” explained Mr. Phillips.

The water is screened for items that don’t belong. Mr. Phillips told Cayman 27 he’s seen pretty much everything under the sun.

“Feminine products, things you probably shouldn’t flush down the toilet, plastics, dental floss, lighters, you name it. A lot of things, they show up here. Q-tips, it’s amazing what people flush,” said Mr. Phillips.

“The more we can keep materials out of the system, the better off we are,” said operations wastewater manager Jerrell Garner.

Mr. Garner monitors the process. After solids are screened, the wastewater is now ready to be introduced to the biological system in one of three sequence batch reactors.

“We are all biological, we use no chemicals for treatment, none whatsoever in our system,” said Mr. Garner.

These SBR’s are loaded with bacteria who happen to have an insatiable appetite for the undigested nutrients in human waste. The bacteria devours the caloric equivalent to almost 20,000 Big Macs every day.

“We provide that oxygen and they just do their thing,” said Mr. Phillips.

When the bacteria have had their fill, they are filtered out of the water. The treated effluent is discharged into the environment through 200-foot deep wells in a process called decanting.

“It’s got to be clean, it has to be, you know, there’s no mistakes,” said

This year’s world water theme is wastewater.

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to

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