Water at last!
BRACO, Trelawny – For the first time in almost 30 years, more than 400 residents of the farming community of Braco, Trelawny, will have access to potable water. Work is expected to be completed on a $90-million National Water Commission (NWC) project in less than a year.
It will mean a world of difference for people like Veron Dowlatt, who spoke with the Jamaica Observer near an area where NWC workers were laying six-inch pipes as part of the project. For years, she said, she and her neighbours in Braco have had to buy potable water or source it from standpipes in nearby communities. For non-consumption purposes, there has been heavy reliance on water provided for irrigation of crops.
“We go to areas like Duncans and fill containers; otherwise, it would be the NIC [National Irrigation Commission] water,” she said.
“It was very much inconvenient for us, and if you don’t have storage to keep the water… you have to wait until they pump the water for the irrigation of the land. They have a specific time that they pump, from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm. So it’s straight irrigation water for the farm lands, no potable water. I spend a lot of time in the area and when I come I always travel with my drinking water,” Dowlatt added.
Another Braco resident, Andrae Hill, is also eagerly anticipating the day when they will have potable water inside their houses. Living without it for the last 29 years, he said, has not been easy.
“Hopefully it comes through quickly and we will be happy. We have to big up the [Member of Parliament for Trelawny Northern] Tova Hamilton and the water commission for doing this,” he told Observer West.
According to NWC Regional Manager for St James and Trelawny Herman Fagan, the project — which began earlier this month — is slated for completion within the next eight months, at most.
“The project is expected to be completed between six to eight months. It will require connection from the 20-inch transmission main that runs from Martha Brae to St Ann,” he said.
Fagan added that work has already started to sensitise residents about the project and what they need to do to ensure that they benefit from it. He said the NWC has held two preliminary meetings with members of the community.
“What we are basically going to do is take the customer service to them. Rather than asking them to come in, once we are almost near completion we are going to arrange a day when we will go into the community and basically sign up all the customers, that is what the plan is,” Fagan said.
For MP Hamilton, she is thrilled she was able to keep her promise of getting potable water to the area that was originally a farming community but now includes residential property.
“The community members reached out to me before I became Member of Parliament to indicate that their greatest concern here was water and road. I met with the community in 2019 and they voiced what their issues were and I made a note of it. What I did at the time was to invite the NWC to be a part of that meeting so they would hear, first-hand, the issues of the people. At that time I made a commitment to them that I would do all I can to ensure that the project becomes a reality for them to get potable water,” she told Observer West.
“So when I won I did my submission, made my request,” she added.
However, while she revelled in what has been accomplished at Braco, the MP acknowledged that there is more work to be done as there are “lots of other communities that have water challenges”.