Gushing water from Yallahs pipeline causes major damage

CLAUDIENNE EDWARDS Observer writer edwardsc@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

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THE Yallahs pipeline had a major break Saturday, causing a mudslide in Shooter's Hill, St Andrew, and damage to houses, with one owned by Salome Millwood suffering in a serious condition.


Residents blamed the National Water Commission (NWC) for poor maintenance of the pipeline that takes water to the Mona Dam in St Andrew, while the commission in turn blamed illegal connections to the air valve for weakening the line and causing it to break.


The hundreds of gallons of water gushing from the burst pipeline above Millwood's house occurred just as friends and relatives arrived at a wake for 49-year-old Petrona Richards, who was to be buried at the Shooter's Hill Burial Park on Sunday.


When the Jamaica Observer visited Shooter's Hill yesterday, tons of dirt from the mudslide could be seen in heaps on the side of the road.


"All the food we were preparing for my mother's 'set up' (wake) wash way," Annean Wallace, daughter of the deceased, told the Observer.


"Preparations for the 'set up' were on the opposite side of the road from where the mud came pouring down the hillside. We just saw a whole heap of water coming from the main pipe which runs across the hillside. All the fry chicken and curry chicken and soup wash way. A car and a motor bike [were] washed way and other vehicles were stuck in the mud. Some of the liquor that the organisers of the 'set up' got on consignment were also washed away," said Samara Reid, who was in attendance at the wake.


"I had just finished polishing my toenails and were waiting on them to dry to come down the hill to the 'set up' when I heard a sound like rain. But when me look out there was no rain. I called out to a youth to ask him if it was raining and he said a bare mud a come down off the hill. By the time I got up I was standing in the mud," Millwood recalled.


She said that she called out to her daughter who was sleeping and she jumped up and started to assist her to raise the livingroom suite and put shoes and other items in bags.


"We tried to sweep out the mud, but the side of the house broke off and water started to eat out under the house. One column washed away and one side of the house is gone."


Millwood said that when they informed the NWC about the mudslide, the commission turned off the water at about 1:00 Sunday morning. However, she said that because of the pressure the water from the pipeline did not stop gushing until about 3:00 Sunday morning.


"The National Water Commission has not been maintaining the pipeline. The pipe rotten and burst. The NWC came and welded the pipe yesterday," said Lennox Chandler, whose house was affected by the mudslide.


At Chandler's house, located across the road directly in the path of the mudlside, cleaning up was still in progress and furniture was still packed up on the verandah yesterday.


At yesterday's monthly meeting of the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC), People's National Party Councillor Patricia Morgan (Dallas Division) questioned Keon Hinds, the NWC's regional water supply and distribution manager (South East Region) about "frequent" breakages along the Yallahs pipeline and informed him about Saturday's incident at Shooters Hill that had resulted in damage to houses and vehicles.


Hinds told the KSAC that the Yallahs pipeline problems were the result of illegal connections to the air valves on the pipeline, and informed the KSAC that water being harvested from the illegal connections was untreated.


To reduce or prevent the illegal connections to the air valves problem, the NWC, he said, was looking at installing four pressure filters (treatment system).


"It is impossible to police the situation, Michael Dunn, NWC vice-president for customer service delivery later told the meeting.



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