Richard Branson, the billionaire entrepreneur and environmentalist, is a believer in Seven Seas Water of Tampa. And Seven Seas Water, a leader in the Caribbean desalination marketplace, is a believer in a troubled water project in the British Virgin Islands, where Branson lives part-time on a 74-acre island.
Seven Seas Water already owns and operates eight desalination plants in seven Caribbean islands, including the U.S. Virgin Islands. Branson is committed to Seven Seas through his Virgin Green Fund, which invests in companies that specialize in clean energy and renewable resources.
“I believe that Seven Seas ownership of this plant will be of great benefit to the local population,” Branson said in a statement.
Seven Seas inherits a reverse-osmosis desalination facility (above) on a hillside in Tortola that opened in November 2014 after a three-year delay. The plant was built by Biwater, a British-based water purification provider that has built desalination facilities in Florida in Boca Raton and Jupiter Island.
Original plans called for Biwater to provide 2.3 million gallons of water a day. Production was stalled by design and infrastructure problems, legal obstacles, and combative politics, according to reports. Opponents of Biwater’s 16-year no-bid contract — worth roughly $18 million a year — were unhappy that local investors were not involved.
Branson, chairman of the Virgin Group, bought Necker Island, near Virgin Gorda, in 1978 and reportedly lives there two months a year. He created a luxury resort in 1984 that includes a desalination plant capable of converting 65,000 gallons of seawater daily. He is also installing solar and wind turbines to replace diesel generators.
“As a long-term investor in Seven Seas Water, I have been impressed with the company’s ability to grow and provide world class water quality and reliable service to its customers,” Branson said.
Seven Seas, a part of AquaVenture Holdings, received a 15-year government agreement to own and operate the facility. The value of the deal was not announced. The plant is capable of providing 2.76 million gallons of potable water daily, according to Seven Seas.
“We believe that our expertise will greatly contribute towards the Government’s long-term water plans,” said Doug Brown, chairman of AquaVenture.
The Virgin Islands has not commented publicly but reportedly was in talks with Seven Seas for several months.
» Cover photo via Clark Little.
Hasta la vista