In October 2013, Pernix Group was awarded the contract to construct a rainwater capture and storage system for the U.S. Embassy Compound in Freetown, Sierra Leone to deal with the limited availability of potable water. The rainy season lasts about five months of the year, with average rainfall more than 500 mm per month. Floods fill wells with waste and spread contaminated water to other drinking sources. During the dry season, Sierra Leone experiences droughts with average rainfall less than 50 mm per month. This situation forced the U.S. to seek a viable long term solution to acquire a consistent water supply source for the Embassy Compound.

In July 2014, an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus affected West Africa including Sierra Leone. Our on site team was evacuated to safety in August. We kept the site running by local employees still on-board while procurement, engineering, controls and management activities were performed remotely. In January 2015, when the spread of the virus was under control, the decision was made to re-mobilize and resume construction. Precautions were analyzed and undertaken, including additional healthcare services available for our team, before our team re-mobilized in March.

This project formed a model for a small-size, high-efficiency, and low-energy water harvesting and reuse system. The rainwater is collected through aluminum canopies and concrete platforms, and is transmitted by pipelines through a water quality structure as a first purification measure, then into the pump station to the steel tanks for temporary storage. Water then flows by gravity through pipelines to the water treatment plant, where it gets purified and treated to be finally pumped into the domestic water system. The two steel tanks each have a capacity of more than 900,000 gallons of stored water, which provides the Embassy with clean water during the dry season. Additionally,

  • Owner:Department of State, Overseas Buildings Operations
  • Location:Freetown, Sierra Leone
  • Project Type:Design/Bid/Build