Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Roselle falls flows again- Drought-ravaged St Thomas sees better times as recent rains wake up dormant waterfall

Published:Sunday | December 20, 2015 | 12:00 AMRyon Jones
Gary Foster points to the Roselle Falls in St Thomas, which started flowing again last week after being dry for some 10 months.
The channel which was created to allow the water to return to the Roselle Falls in St Thomas.
In this 2013 photo, a group of young adults had fun under the falls in Roselle, St Thomas with the water flowing heavily.
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Residents of Roselle and neighbouring communities in St Thomas celebrated wildly last week as for the first time in several months, water flowed from the famous waterfall in the area.

With residents unable to remember a time when the waterfall did not flow, there was speculation as to why it had suddenly stopped, with the main theory being that a farmer had channelled the water to use on his farm.

But the farmer, Gary Foster, who is the trustee for the property on which the water springs before making its way to the falls, said it was his hard work which culminated with the falls flowing again.

"What we did is that we went to one of the sources, which is the fig tree on the property, and we looked at it and said, 'Well, it is still moist', and we used one of those geological sticks, and when we took it up, we saw that water was still present," said Foster.

"So we drew the conclusion that is drop the water drop. So what we did was use a backhoe and scrape off around three feet down, and when we did that we saw water bubbling up, so we created a trench to get it over the hump.

"This latest rain that we got in the parish gave it a boost, but we have to watch it and see. On the first day of the rain, the falls came heavy, but by midday, it stopped. So we are keeping our fingers crossed that it will continue," Foster told The Sunday Gleaner.

The waterfall is located close to the border of the White Horses and Roselle communities, which once bustled with commerce and entertainment.

 

REDUCED FLOW

 

That changed with the passing of Hurricane Dean in 2007 as the raging seawater damaged the shoreline, concrete structures and boats in the area, and inflicted significant damage to the roadway.

The road was repaired, but in doing so, the National Works Agency placed huge boulders along the shoreline in an effort to prevent the sea from having that devastating effect in the future.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, the flow of the waterfall reduced drastically.

This did not stop persons from using the waterfall for bathing and even laundry, despite several visitors travelling to Roselle to enjoy the water, which can be accessed from the edge of the roadway as it flows down.

According to Lambert Martin, who has been selling from his wooden stall metres from the waterfall for close to six years, in February, water stopped flowing from the natural wonder.

"It was a great loss, because since the falls stop flowing, it slowed up things bad. People used to come from all over and stop and bathe," said Martin.

"Even the rocks that they put here slow up things, too, because man used to come a beach and go bathe and so forth.

"Mi glad the water is back, because people from all about can come. Even a Rastaman from Spanish Town, more time him leave come out here and wash him hair, bathe, and buy him Irish moss drink, but him not coming again," added Martin.

Patrick Doyley said the waterfall had made him into a star on several occasions.

"That falls make mi all reach foreign, and I have never travelled before, but foreigners stop and take pictures with me and then they take me all over the place. So I was really sad that it stopped," Doyley said.

Returning resident Anthony Rodgers is praying that the waterfall, which is one of the major attractions in White Horses, will keep following.

"My father was 96 two years ago, and he said he came and saw it, so it came as a bit of a sadness to me when it disappeared a few months ago," said Rodgers.

 

SYMBOLIC OF NEGLECTED PARISH

 

"I went all over the district looking to see what was happening in the hills, and I noticed that we have had some severe deforestation because of the coal burning, but that alone is not responsible for the demise of the water[fall], part of it has also had to do with the heavy drought that we had and so the water has sunk."

Foster said the waterfall reflects overall neglect of St Thomas by the authorities as no agency has seen a need to maintain what could be a major tourist attraction for the parish.

"We are very disappointed that more emphasis was not placed on this waterfall to help to secure a part of the heritage of this parish and [boost] community tourism," said Foster.

"It has always been an attraction to the public at large - not only persons in this community - but we have yet to see any emphasis placed on it to say, let's give it a facelift.

"Sometimes we don't know what we have until we lose it, and since it has been gone for so long, we hope now that it is back, people will get involved and start to help to let us see what we can do to sustain it."

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com