More than 250 hydrants in Westmoreland not working
SAVANNA-LA-MAR, Westmoreland — More than 250 of Westmoreland’s hydrants are not working, and residents’ pilferage of water, as well as inadequate supply of the life-saving liquid are two of the reasons given for the problem.
“We were able to audit around 502 hydrants in which 264 are found to be working satisfactorily; 258 [are] not working,” district officer from the parish’s fire department Norris Mitchell told last Thursday’s monthly meeting of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation.
After fire ravaged a supermarket in Savanna-la-Mar last month, questions were raised about the status of the parish’s fire hydrants, prompting Deputy Mayor Ian Myles to call for an audit. On Thursday, Mitchell presented the findings.
“Two of the main reasons are either no water in the area at the time of the inspection, or damage to the valve. This is mainly caused by private individuals, in terms of water theft, and this is especially in the Negril and Whitehouse area,” said Mitchell.
He explained that valves suffer damage when they are repeatedly tightened over a period of time. The firefighter also elaborated on the damage that is being done by low water pressure.
“From the township of Sav-la-Mar most of the hydrants are working, but it all depends on what time of the day [that] there is low water pressure. That, coupled with the age-old upgrading of the water system or the distribution, will help to contribute to the low water pressure that we experience most of the time in terms of carrying out our firefighting duties,” he said.
Responding to the results of the audit, Myles — who at the previous meeting had complained that there were no functioning hydrants in Savanna-la-Mar — expressed concern about the low water pressure plaguing the town.
“I am learning now that [some of] the hydrants are in fact working and I don’t know how workable they are without water. So there lies another problem. I am not sure what is causing the drop in terms of water pressure in these areas where the hydrants are located and moreover the township of Sav-la-Mar,” he said.
“What can be done at the earliest convenience to have that situation rectified, because, as it is now, those hydrants aren’t working, because without water they serve no purpose and so there is a serious concern and one that has to be rectified expeditiously,” Myles pointed out.
After lauding Mitchell on the timely manner in which the report on the audit was provided, the deputy mayor suggested a way forward.
“We are going to ask the NWC (National Water Commission) to have a joint meeting with your department to ensure that collaboration will yield the kind of results that we want in the town, because, if we have another fire the same problem will arise, because there is just no water,” Myles said.
The This One supermarket on Lewis Street, a concrete structure with a slab roof, along with two 40-foot containers and all their contents, were completely destroyed in last month’s blaze.