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South Trelawny MP denies claim of tainted water

Published:Tuesday | August 26, 2014 | 8:00 AM
Trevor Gordon fills the containers of Martin Bryan (in background) at the treatment plant in Wait-a-Bit, Trelawny. - Photo by Mark Titus

Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer

Western Bureau:

South Trelawny Member of Parliament Marissa Dalrymple Philibert has denied claims that the health of some of her constituents was in danger of being compromised on account of their being forced to be using contaminated water.

In an open letter to the Office of the Public Defender, which was published in last Saturday's Gleaner, businessman Paul Patmore, the councillor for the Lorrimers division, said that a health crisis was looming in the area.

"The water situation is that of a public disaster, to the point that there has been an outbreak of disease in the division because of lack of water to carry out daily hygienic functions," Patmore stated in his letter.

However, in rejecting the claim of Patmore, who is an independent councillor, Dalrymple Philibert said she knows of no area in which residents were drinking contaminated water.

"I reject this totally. I know of no area that the people have to be drinking water with tadpoles in it or the water is deemed unsafe," said Dalrymple Philibert in an interview with The Gleaner yesterday. "How could I as MP sit and be silent if such a thing was happening in my constituency? This is not true.

"Everyone is aware that there is a drought, and this affects the entire island. The water situation in my constituency is no different, but I have been in discussion with State Minister Ian Hayles, who responded with a tour of the area," continued Dalrymple Philibert. "Estimates have been done to change the pipes, but I cannot give a time line when this will be done."

No water since 2012

According to Wait-a-Bit resident Sylvia Palmer, the last time she had running water was in December 2012, even though she recently received a bill for $47,000.

"We have to buy water from the truck, but many of us use a lot of bleach, because while we are grateful for the truckers, we are not sure that they are observing best practices, so we have to do something," said Palmer.

"Every and anyone has access to our water source, and this is not good," continued Palmer. "We had a well-equipped plant, and although there are frequent visits by NWC personnel, it's just to remove a piece of equipment to take elsewhere."

Forty-five year-old Leroy Bryan, who uses a wheelchair, said he is forced to purchase water from trucks at $1,300 to meet his everyday needs. He is anxiously hoping to get potable water in his pipes once again.

mark.titus@gleanerjm.com