Sun | Aug 20, 2017

Liquid cash - Drought profitable for water truck owners

Published:Sunday | August 24, 2014 | 8:00 AM
A water truck being filled up at Talawah Investments' facility, while the driver of another truck waits. - Photo by Sheldon Williams
A water truck being filled from a river along the Mandela Highway, St Catherine, in July. - File
Sheldon Williams Water from a truck douses patrons during Island Mas and Kirov Vodka's Official and Original Water Party in 2012. Water parties are a source of income for water truck operators. - File
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Sheldon Williams, Gleaner Writer

Despite a smattering of showers recently, the prolonged drought affecting Jamaica has resulted in an unexpected peak season for water providers and haulage companies, which provide residential and commercial service.

One operator of a haulage company which provides water spoke to Automotives on condition of anonymity. "It's not too bad now that we are in the drought season, but when it rains, we usually park up. Business slows down when we have excessive rain," the operator said. "It is not viable in rain, because you do not have water lock-offs and you don't have water restrictions," she said.

However, business picks up when there is demand from water-themed party organisers. "We do a lot of water parties too, because you know when people dance and get hot, they want to cool off when they cannot afford the liquor," she said.

She said all water haulage companies have to adhere to regulations established by the Ministry of Health, as safety is prioritised. "We have to operate on stipulations. Periodically, they come in and they want to know where we get our water from. We also get a report from our suppliers as to the quality of the water," she said.

Pipes to the tracks' stainless steel tanks are regularly cleaned with bleach.

Safety is also a priority for Richard Simpson, managing director of Talawah Investments Limited, the company that supplies many water haulage operators. However, he said, "Our responsibility ends when the water is delivered in the hauler's truck."

Explaining the operation, he said, "In June 2012, Talawah Investments Ltd became Kingston's largest private wholesale water distribution centre. This facility, now branded as Tala-Water, is a fully functional bulk water supplier, designed for the rapid loading of multiple tankers, capable of loading 8,000 gallons in less than 10 minutes."

A million gallons per day

He explained that large volumes of water are pumped into trucks daily. "We are licensed to provide just over one million gallons of water per day. We are an alternative source of water in times of drought, prolonged water lock-offs or after a natural disaster," he said.

The operation is based on Ballater Avenue in St Andrew.

Simpson explained that Talawah taps into its own supply to service clients. "Our water is derived from our own private artesian well, christened Rehoboth, which means 'finally there is room for us'. It is drilled to a depth of over 300 feet, within a confined alluvium aquifer of naturally filtered sand and gravel," Simpson said.

After the water is brought to the surface, Simpson said, it is "... filtered and treated. The result is a product that surpasses the impeccably high standards of the World Health Organization requirements for potable water, as well as all relevant local government authorities."

Simpson also said emphasis is placed on testing for turbidity.

"Turbidity is a measure of water clarity and, basically, is a measure of how much material is suspended in water and how much that suspended material decreases the passage of light through the water," he explained. "Turbidity can affect the colour of the water. We use a centrifugal filtration system to remove these items that can cause turbidity."

Talawah Investments Ltd is a subsidiary of Jamaica Wells and Services Ltd.