RESIDENTS of Innswood Village in St Catherine are complaining that a sewage treatment plant in their community is disrupting their normal lives whenever rain falls.
Last week the disgruntled residents gathered at the entrance of their community to protest against what they described as a situation which will compound their problem.
News emerged late yesterday that the citizens were due to have another meeting among themselves in the evening, followed by another with representativs of the National Water Commission (NWC) later in the night.
Last week as workmen contracted to MJC Master Builders dug a trench across Job Lane, the residents stood watching helplessly. The trench was being built to connect the newly constructed Civil Meadows II — a housing development of 160 units — to a sewage system that serves the Innswood Village scheme.
But the residents say the additional houses will only put more strain on an already overburdened sewage treatment system.
"The sewage system cannot even carry Innswood Village right now because we have a serious problem inside here. Whenever the rain falls the sewage comes up inside the middle of the street and inside people's homes. People cannot even use the bathroom or do nothing at all in their homes. If these 160 homes come on the system it will only compound the problem," head of the Innswood Village Citizen's Association Vernon Cobran, told the Jamaica Observer.
Cobran said that it was not uncommon for raw sewage to come up through the outflows of bathtubs and through toilets which poses a serious health risk and makes living in Innswood Village an ordeal.
He pleaded with the NWC to remedy the situation which he said was 'untenable.'
But Maurice Gabay of MJC Master Builders said that his company had satisfied every legal requirement and was given the go ahead by the NWC, The National Environmental Planning Agency, the National Works Agency and the St Catherine Parish Council.
Gabay said that his company had forked out $3 million to government agencies and was not in breach of any law.
"We should work together to get a sit down with the NWC to get the remedial work that needs to get done on that plant is done. The capacity is there. Once the remedial work gets done then none of this would be going on," Gabay said.
Gabay said that the plant was built almost a decade ago and has the capacity to take on additional housing developments.
However, a source at the NWC said that the commission's policy is that contractors should give at least 14 days notice before adding more houses to any sewage system
The source also blamed residents in most housing schemes as the source of the problem because of their poor use of the sewage systems.
"Over 90 per cent of cases of blockage is as a result of improper and illegal disposal of solid non-biodegradable, non-sewage stuff. We have found everything imaginable, used condoms, sanitary napkins, bed springs, two by four lumber, forks, knives, spoons all of which clog the system," a source at the NWC said.
On Friday Gabay, Cobran and representatives of the NWC were locked in a meeting and according to Cobran the residents were given a verbal assurance from the commission that its engineers would look into the problem.
However Cobran accused Gabay of not yielding to a request to stop laying pipes for two weeks so the work could be done.
"He said he can't wait for two weeks," Cobran said.