Multimillion-dollar stink - North Street sewage continues to flow despite lengthy fix - NWC blames business that continues to dump into the main
The problem of the ongoing raw sewage overflowing on to North Street in downtown Kingston continues despite a lengthy $36 million project to correct it. According to Charles Buchanan, communications manager for the National Water Commission (NWC), much of the blame is to be laid at the feet of one nearby commercial enterprise, which contributes significantly to solid matter being disposed of in the sewer mains.
"We will have to investigate information that at least one commercial enterprise is party to the dumping of solid materials into the mains, which end up blocking and eventually causing the overflow at this location," he said.
He said that the problem was not with the North Street sewer lines, but with another line that flows into the North Street main. At least one commercial business operator could find itself in trouble, Buchanan said, as the NWC will be undertaking an investigation into whether it is dumping waste and by-product into the sewer.
"In the past, we have intervened and cleared blockages from what is called a collectual sewer that flows into the North Street chunk sewer. But North Street is not the problem now," Buchanan said.
He noted that non-sewage materials were being deposited into the sewers, which are collected then settled, creating the blockages the residents are experiencing.
"I was not aware of it being a continuing problem. I am, however, aware of an overflow problem that has been on and off, and I am aware of issues that have contributed to this," Buchanan told The Gleaner yesterday.
Last year, the NWC identified blocked sewer mains in the vicinity of East Street and Rum Lane, off North Street. They said that the problem would have been corrected when it replaced the approximately 170 metres (557 feet) of the 31-inch diameter "upper-level sewer" main.
Residents are quite dissatisfied with the ongoing problem as they thought the inconvenience they faced from last year December until now to facilitate the work would have finally corrected a more than decade-old problem.
"This is shameful! Imagine how much money they spent on fixing this - at least a dat dem say. Yet nothing has changed because we still suffering from the overflowing sewage water," said Clevette Straw, a resident of North Street, who operates a shop directly in front of the overflowing manhole.
She said that she had to abandon the use of her bathroom as raw sewage often comes up into her house, posing a serious health risk.
"I have to stand on blocks to bathe in the bathroom. It is horrible! We never expected this because they said they would fix the problem," said Joan Bennett, another resident.
Mercilyne Stephenson, on the eve of her 100th birthday, said that the sewage is causing her to struggle to breath at times, noting that for years, she and the rest of the community have had to contend with the problem.
"It is a disgrace! Unbearable! I am a sick old lady and not even to mek sure we have clean air. Three times now they say they going to fix it, and all now," lamented the elderly woman.