Water, at last!
South Trelawny residents welcome rehabilitation of catchment and wayside tanks
ALPS, Trelawny — A recently completed project to rehabilitate water catchment and wayside tanks in sections of southern Trelawny, is expected to cushion the adverse effects of an impending three month-drought forecasted by the Meteorological Office, for especially western parishes.
The programme, the brainchild of Dr Pauline Foster, the People's National Party (PNP's) councillor for the Ulster Spring Division, successfully undertaken by the Rural Water Supply Limited, saw repairs to four catchment and three wayside tanks in the communities of Burke, Alps, Linton, Lot and Freeman's Hall.
"Although the area of south Trelawny supply 40 per cent of the island with water, we always suffer, and when there is a drought it is even worse," said Dr Foster.
"Our catchment system was woefully lacking. We had five catchments plus wayside tanks, but they were all in a serious state of disrepair," she noted, adding that the project was born out of the need to address water woes faced by residents in her division.
"I wrote to Rural Water and asked for assistance and thankfully they assisted, and now most of our tanks are functional."
Work by the Rural Water Supply Limited which in some cases lasted for up to three months, included the installation of chlorination systems, the laying of pipe lines, bushing and fencing of premises as well as repairs to the tanks.
Under the initiative, the catchment tanks are being supplied by the trucking of water and rainfall, while the wayside tanks will be serviced by trucks owned by the National Water Commission and the Trelawny Parish Council.
Already, residents of the Alps community — which forms part of the Cockpit Country, like other areas in the hilly section of the parish- are benefiting from the recent repairs to the catchment tank in their community.
Pauline Barnett Gordon, who was among a group of women doing laundry near the standpipe connected to the recently repaired 100,000 gallon-capacity catchment tank, last Friday, is one such resident.
She recounted the plight residents faced on Christmas Day in 2012, when they had to travel to Ulster Spring, a distance of six kilometres, to source water for domestic purposes.
"We had to go way up a Ulster Spring. All night ketch we. Since the tank fix it really help we. Because December 2012 we have fe deh run up and down. It look so bad, inna big Christmas (2012) no water. We have to up and down so much. All big, big Christmas Day we couldn't cook a good pot because no water," reflected Barnett Gordon.
Another woman added: "We had a whole heap a dirty clothes pack up inna the place. We couldn't wash."
The entire Alps community which has a population of roughly 500, according to a Social Development Commission (SDC) count, is not served by the NWC.
Nicole Surgeon, who was also among the group of women, while welcoming the recommissioning of the catchment, cited the need for the NWC to provide potable water in the community.
"The tank a help out but if we could only get (National)Water Commission to come run some pipe, instead of us using the tank, that would be good," said Surgeon, adding that " we have a spring down here."
But Dr Foster, however, is strongly advocating for the continued use of harvested rain water in the south Trelawny communities, which are famed for the production of yams.
Infact, during a contract signing ceremony for a $80 million water supply project for Eastern Westmoreland, recently, Minister of Water, Land, Environment & Climate Change Robert Pickersgill, pointed to "the strengthening of a policy" to make it mandatory for all housing developments to make allowances for rain water harvesting.
In the meantime, Dr Foster also cited a move by the Trelawny Parish Council to make it mandatory for water storage systems to be included in the drawings submitted by persons from south Trelawny in their application for the construction of houses.
"You have to tell us how you are going to get water when you don't have a tank. For example, we need to know how you going to flush your toilets. How you are going to wash your clothes. So you can't just build your homes and don't have any water to take care of yourself," she explained.