Windalco supply shift blamed for water woes in Hope Village
For close to a year, residents of Hope Village in Williamsfield, Manchester, have had to be storing water in bottles, buckets, and tanks because of a shift in the supply arrangement between the UC Rusal-owned Windalco bauxite company and the National Water Commission (NWC).
The community, once exclusively populated by workers of bauxite company, Windalco (formerly Alcan), enjoyed free water supply from the company for years. However, since the 1990s, after lots were made widely available for sale and the space expanded, water service has been regulated through the National Water Commission.
Residents lament, however, that between the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Sundays and Wednesdays, they have had no water coming through their pipes.
“We have reported it to Windalco, they have sent us to NWC, and NWC sent us back to Windalco. We just have to store water when water is available. People in the area buy tanks as an alternative,” said a resident who requested anonymity.
“We are even still being billed and billed for more than we are actually getting, but what can we do?”
Another resident with whom The Gleaner spoke said that while householders are trying to adapt to the inconvenience, there are senior citizens who are struggling to cope.
“They lock off during the day and are probably saying that persons are at work and children at school. But we have a lot of returned residents and senior citizens who are home all day,” the resident said.
Chairperson of the Hope Village Citizens’ Association, Verna Manning, said the group has sent letters to the NWC, but have yet to receive an official response.
NWC’s acting regional manager for Manchester and St Elizabeth, Raymond Nesbeth, confirmed to The Gleaner that Windalco has altered its regulation of the commodity, which has affected an arrangement for the NWC to purchase water from them to supply the Hope Village community.
“Windalco supplies us in the evening and we supply to residents as how we get the water from Windalco. We are trying to get clarity on the matter with the change in regulation,” Nesbeth said during an interview.
Repeated attempts to get comment from Windalco have been unsuccessful. When contacted, representatives said they would seek clarification and respond.
However, all subsequent calls, days later, have gone unanswered.
Nesbeth said while ongoing talks are being had with representatives of Windalco for restoration of daily supply, residents may request that water be trucked to them by the NWC.
“We will truck to those whose bills are in good order,” he said.
Among those affected are the students and teachers of Hope Village Infant School who are hoping for a quick resolution.
A senior teacher said that the school has a single black tank that is refilled from the main at night. The school had once been forced to close, the teacher said.
“If there is no water, we have to truck water, and if that cannot be done, we have to close school … NWC said it’s really an issue with Windalco, we are not quite sure. But until there is resolution, we have to just work with what we can,” the educator said.