Tue | Jan 26, 2021

Mount Industry thirsts for water to keep COVID at bay - Dry pipes, ­trucking costs force ­residents to turn to untreated sources

Published:Wednesday | April 8, 2020 | 12:07 AMRuddy Mathison/Gleaner Writer

Dry pipes have been making it difficult for thousands of residents in Mount Industry, St Catherine, to maintain sanitation guidelines issued by the Government to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus locally.

With frequent handwashing and disinfecting of surfaces being promoted as the most effective tools in tackling the highly contagious novel coronavirus, which causes the COVID-19 respiratory disease, the nearly 6,000 residents are faced with a dilemma.

They are hoping the crisis, which started before the deadly virus reached local shores, will be addressed in short order.

“Right now, we need at least 30 loads of water in the area to adequately satisfy the demands,” Councillor Roogae Kirlew told The Gleaner. “We were able to secure three loads last week, but this was really a drop in the bucket.”

He continued: “The residents are finding it very difficult to cope. Those who can afford to buy water from private trucks have been doing so, but those who cannot afford to buy are having a real difficult time.”

The councillor said that residents are forking out up to $300 to fill plastic containers, and those who cannot afford it have to rely on small streams of untreated water.

Kirlew told The Gleaner that he has been taking steps to deal with the long-standing water crisis in the area by collecting water from a source in the district of Gobay. However, he did not give a timeline for completion of the works, which he said have already started.

Calvert Davis, the National Water Commission’s (NWC) water production manager for St Catherine, said that the persistent drought has severely impacted the Sue River plant, hampering its ability to supply Mount Industry.

“We are operating at 25 per cent capacity ... . However, we have been trucking water into the area to alleviate the shortfall and we will continue to do this until other sources of supply currently being looked at are finalised,” Davis said.

He said the 30 loads suggested by the councillor would be impossible to meet because the drought has affected other treatment plants in that area of the parish and the same trucks have to be supplying water to the residents in those communities.