UPPER ROCK SPRING, Hanover — A severe drought affecting several Hanover communities is creating severe hardships for National Water Commission (NWC) customers served by the Kendal Pumping Station and Logwood Treatment Plant in the parish.
Among the affected areas are those in Westland Mountain, Orange Hill, Good Hope, Pell River, Green River, Caudwell, Cove, Friendship, Cessnock, Kendal Top, Grange and Upper Rock Spring.
But residents of the rustic community of Upper Rock Spring are seemingly experiencing the brunt of the water shortage, which has reportedly forced them to consume untreated water from the "ever reliable" Thatch Walk Spring, located about a mile from the centre of the district.
"Everybody in the community use the water (from the spring) to bathe, do laundry and also for drinking," Noel Murray a 35-year-old farmer of the community told the Observer West during a visit to the area recently.
He added: "This is where (the spring) we get the cleanest water around. The spring is ever running... it never dries. No matter how severe the drought, it never dries up."
Murray and another resident claimed that persons who can't get to the spring pay others to transport container loads of the commodity from the source on donkeys and bicycles and in motor vehicles to their homes.
"The spring has been running for years after years. I am 35 and I have been drinking water from the spring from ever since I know myself, and older than me say they have been drinking it ever since," added Murray.
Evidence of the hardships Upper Rock Spring residents are facing in sourcing the precious commodity was evident throughout the community during a recent visit by our news team to the area. There, a number of residents were seen transporting plastic containers loaded with water.
A private water truck was also spotted delivering the commodity into plastic tanks to some persons.
"We sometimes depend on water trucks which charge as much as $2,000 and $3,000 for a load of water or rely on rainfall," a female resident, who gave her name only as Rose, told the Observer West.
"This has been going on for years. Everybody (politician) come in say them a go do better and nothing don't done. Tired to talk to them, so some of us who can't afford to buy the water have to resort to the spring."
But Anthony Walker, the councillor for the Cauldwell Division in which the community falls, is appealing to the residents to desist from consuming the untreated water.
"I know people living in that community were told by the health department not to use that water to drink because it is not deemed safe for consumption," Walker told the Observer West.
He said he has been making strong representation at the local level for urgent attention to be given to the water crisis that is now being experienced in the community. This, he said, has resulted in the trucking of water to residents there.
In the long term, he pointed out, the western Hanover member of Parliament Ian Hayles has been making representation at the Central Government level to address the problem.
"As it relates to representation I have been doing it at the local level. I have been in touch with MP Ian Hayles and he has a plan to put a pump at Grange Square and that pump should be taking water from Logwood which will then be pumped to Upper Rock Spring. He has already taken a NWC representative through the area and so I know there is a plan to solve the problem," he explained.
Hayles could not be reached for a comment yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Hanover Health Department says the drought conditions in the parish of Hanover is having a negative impact on its services offered to the public.
Dr Marcia Johnson Campbell, who was recently assigned to the parish as Medical Officer of Health, told the regular monthly meeting of the Hanover Parish Council last week that the shortage of water being experienced within the parish is of "grave concern" to her department.
She highlighted that due to the lack of water, the health department in some instances is not able to offer a full clinic to the public, noting that "this could put both staff and clients at risk."
"When we do not have water, we are not able operate a full clinic and not having water could put our staff and our clients at risk, because the major thing of infection control is hand washing," Dr Johnson explained.
She charged the department is not getting the full support of the NWC.
"When we make request of NWC, we are usually not well supported," she stressed, adding that the department's lack of a utility vehicle is preventing her team from trucking water to the various health centres across the parish.
A representative of the NWC, however, said that the utility company is trucking water to many communities in the parish.
Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor of Lucea Lloyd Hill said he will be taking a motion to next month's sitting of the Hanover Parish Council for the Ministry of Local Government to assist the council with the trucking of water in the parish.
He argued that Hanover is one of the parishes severely affected by drought conditions, pointing out however, that due to a lack of resources the council is not able to adequately finance the trucking of the commodity.
— Additional reporting by Anthony Lewis