Rural St Andrew residents want frequent flow of water
Pipes run through the community of Goulbourne Valley in St Andrew but the infrequency with which residents access water through them is their complaint.
A 23-year-old resident, who gave his name as Joel, told The Gleaner that he has been living in the community for just over a year, and already he is experiencing the inconsistencies in water supply.
“Di water will all come today and all three months or more and we nuh get water and then when it come again, it come fi three or two hour and yuh haffi hurry up and ketch it,” he lamented.
A 10-minute walk from the main road, down a narrow stretch led to what Joel and other residents call the “gully”. Rainwater settles along sections of the channel and for many residents, it is their daily source for the much-needed commodity.
Trevor Grant, a shop operator, maintained that water has been an issue in the community since he was a child.
“Sometime my wife go a one next district fi go church and she carry jug and full it and bring come. Wi depend pan rainfall and if rain nuh fall, wi nuh have nuh wata,” the 73-year-old said.
He continued: “As soon as di rain stop fall and we stop get wata a pipe, wi haffi guh a gully fi wata fi use fi washing, but di drinking now yuh haffi come buy wata a road,” Grant said.
Jamie Wizard was sitting close to the gully and told The Gleaner that he has been catching water there since he was a child.
“Wi use it wash, wi use it cook cause wi hardly get water inna di pipe and wi use it bathe and do every likkle ting. When wi nuh get nuh water inna di pipe, we boil it and use it fi drink,” the now 18-year-old said.
The water is also home to tadpoles, and according to the residents, the water is safe for household use.
“Wi have tadpoles, fishes and cray fish inna it suh yuh know di wata can drink once cray fish inna it,” a resident shouted when The Gleaner enquired about its cleanliness.
Jason Benjamin is paid by residents to transport water from the gully to their homes. His starting price is $100 to carry a five-gallon bucket and it increases based on distance away from the source.
“Sometime dem seh di machine break down, but how your pump fi break down suh often and so long?” he questioned.
A number of the houses observed practise rainwater harvesting, using plastic tanks and drums as the storage facility.
St Andrew West Rural Member of Parliament Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn said infrequent water supply is an ongoing problem in Lawrence Tavern and surrounding communities that is “years old”.
The MP said she was in constant dialogue with residents and was never informed that they have resorted to sourcing water from the gully.
“I’ve never told or called a meeting to assess that situation; however, the NWC [National Water Commission] is aware, we have widened the catchment in Peat Hill, we have installed meters for over a hundred residents in Fern Hill who were not getting water at all, and now they are getting water,” she explained.
She said over the years the small pipes in Goulbourne Valley have not been upgraded.
“It cannot supply all the people who live in these areas unless, of course, we also increase the pipe size and we increase the catchment where the water is coming from,” the member of parliament said.