North Street sewer problems worsened by misuse, says NWC
Work now being done by the National Water Commission (NWC) to overhaul a section of its sewerage system - which has resulted in North Street being closed to vehicular traffic between East Street and Rum Lane - is overdue and absolutely necessary, according to Charles Buchanan, corporate public relations manager at the utility company.
However, problems caused by the inadequacy of the outdated system have been worsened over the years by individuals who and businesses that misuse the system.
"The basic issue is that in addition to the fact that we have a 100-year-old rectangular-type sewer underneath the roadway, we also have persons who have been using the sewer improperly and discharging solids and a lot of solid waste matter that do not belong in the sanitary sewers," Buchanan told The Gleaner.
"So the combination of the age of the infrastructure, build-up that has happened on it over time, and the improper use of the network have really created a significant problem. We have sections that have been blocking along North Street and resulting in overflows and frequent nuisances to persons, pedestrians and motorists in the area."
Potential health risks
Previous mitigation efforts have failed to address the overflow of raw sewage, especially from a manhole in the vicinity of Rum Lane, where it has been a source of discomfort, created a traffic hazard, and posed health risks to road users, forcing the NWC to finally move to fix the problem once and for all.
However, the nature of the work to be done carries some potential health risks for the workers directly involved, Buchanan said.
"We also will be working in an area where the sewer is already live. It's not a green field where you are just going to build a new infrastructure, but you have to be working alongside existing infrastructure with sewage in the vicinity of the work area to work in a way that you will be able to switch over from the existing problematic piece of sewer main to the new segment that you will be putting in. So it's very involved and, unfortunately, it will have to require temporary road closures for the distance that the sewer main will be replaced from the East Street intersection up to the Rum Lane intersection - that stretch."