Broken Yallahs main to cost millions to fix
The National Water Com-mission (NWC) could find itself with a bill exceeding $500 million to repair the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy.
David Geddes, vice-president of marketing and communications at the NWC, yesterday confirmed that Sandy has left the Yallahs pipeline broken.
Geddes did not confirm the repair costs, but technical experts told The Sunday Gleaner that the cost to repair the pipeline would be in the region of half-a-billion dollars.
"Then the NWC will have to find money to repair the intake valves which were damaged during the hurricane," said an expert who once worked in a senior managerial position at the commission.
For his part, Geddes admitted that turbidity would have blocked some NWC intakes and damaged others.
He said the commission is going to have to check the entire Yallahs pipeline before it can determine the extent of the repair that will be needed and the cost.
"But the break in the pipeline will not directly affect NWC customers at this time because it is raw, untreated water that it takes from St Thomas to Mona and, at last check, that was more than 90 per cent full. It could be completely full by now," said Geddes.
He said about 140,000 NWC customers or 30 per cent of its total list of customers lost water in the aftermath of Sandy and the majority of cases involved the loss of electricity to the commission's plants.
"About 163-170 facilities were left without power initially, but by Friday this was down to 153, and I suspect more would have had their power restored by today (Saturday)," said Geddes.
According to Geddes, the NWC has been in constant talks with the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) which has committed to restoring power in the areas where the commission's plants are located.
But even in instances where the JPS has not restored power, the NWC has been using creative measures to get water to its customers.
"In a situation like Portmore, St Catherine, we diverted water from New Haven, Washington Gardens and those communities to our customers in Portmore because there was no electricity in the area from Wednesday."
Geddes said the commission's employees have been working overtime since Sandy to try to restore service.
"NWC staff at the control centre and the call centre worked 24 hours non-stop. We also used GIS (geographic information system) to map where problems were so we could react quickly," Geddes said.