Sat | May 25, 2019

NEPA to tackle Hanover's water concerns

Published:Wednesday | May 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMBryan Miller/Gleaner Writer
Sheridan Samuels


With complaints steadily growing from residents about the contamination of the sea in the vicinity of the Old Steamer section of Orchard Beach in Hopewell, Hanover, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has been officially called in to test the quality of the water in the area.

The request was made at last week's sitting of the Hanover Municipal Corporation's Physical Planning and Environment Committee meeting, where the matter was discussed. Legal documents are being prepared with a view to assist the corporation in moving the squatters from the area. The water-quality testing will be additional information for those files.

Lucea Mayor Sheridan Samuels, who heads the corporation, recently gave a commitment to the residents of Hopewell that he would tackle the problem, which he said he inherited. The Hopewell Citizens' Association had written to the corporation, claiming that, from the very outset, they had been calling for the removal of the shacks, which now numbers 10.

"There is no way we will ignore the cry of the residents of Hopewell, because they wrote to us, and we want to ensure that we have a good response for them when we meet," said Samuels.


Request to disconnect electricity


At a previous meeting of the Planning and Environment Committee, the Hanover Public Health Department was directed to visit the area with a view to identify any health hazard present and issue notices where necessary. The Jamaica Public Service (JPS) was also written to by the municipal corporation, requesting disconnection of the electricity to illegally constructed buildings along the roadway.

However, while the Public Health Department did its checks and reported back to the corporation, the JPS flatly refused to do any disconnections until the corporation can prove ownership of the lands on which the shacks have been constructed.

With the illegal buildings all within 30 feet from the breakwater line of the beach, concerns were high in the meeting as to the possibility of the contamination of the seawater in the area by the soak-away septic pits. Mayor Samuels expressed great concern, as the area is a popular beach site for residents and persons from neighbouring St James.

It would appear that NEPA will be giving its fullest cooperation, as according to Tamara Woodit, the NEPA enforcement coordinator for the western region, the necessary water-quality testing will be done shortly and results presented to the corporation as soon as they become available.