Over 1,000 residents to benefit from Clarendon water tankThursday, July 08, 2021
COXWAIN, Clarendon — More than 1,000 residents are set to benefit from a 10,000-gallon water catchment facility in north-central Clarendon once the $9-million system is fully up and running.
Originally slated to be ready in October 2020, heavy rains delayed completion until June this year and community members are now eagerly awaiting the day when they will be able to get water from it.
Among them is councillor for the Rock River Division, Uriah Mitchell, who sheepishly told the Jamaica Observer that a comment by his granddaughter had pushed him to see the project through to the end.
“[She] was spending holiday with me [and] asked, 'Grandpa, how long you been a councillor?' I said this is my fourth term. She looked at me and said, 'Grandpa, you're a four-term councillor and still a flash up water inna bath.' That statement struck a nerve because she was about eight years old at the time. That gave me the drive to push even harder to see to it that I implement and finish the water projects I have in the pipeline,” he said, admitting that he was somewhat embarrassed.
The problem of inaccessibility to a consistent water supply has been a long-standing one in his division, he said.
“The [State-run] NWC (National Water Commission) slogan says, 'Water is life', but if water is life, the people of Rock River Division dead,” said the elected local government official.
He added that though the NWC has long-term plans for getting water to the people in the area, he still has to find creative ways to ensure the residents he represents have access to the precious commodity.
To execute the catchment project, for example, he had to first secure the land on which it was built, reaching out, from as far back as 2004, to resident Keith Brown to ask if a section of his land could be used. Brown quickly agreed and the next step was to secure funding.
“Thanks to the mayor, Winston Maragh, who sits as chairman of the Rural Water Supply [Limited] board. He lobbied the committee and was granted approval and they did it. It is long overdue but I'm thankful that it's finally here,” Mitchell said.
Communities such as Low Ground, Cotton Ground, Coxwain, Ward Hill, and people as far as Crawle River about 20 miles away, are expected to benefit from the project. Standpipes will be installed at strategic spots, Mitchell said, to minimise crowding and chaos at the catchment tank. There will also be a caretaker who will ensure the tank is kept clean and sanitised at all times and not overgrown by vegetation. Mitchell said if there is insufficient rainfall to fill the tank, water will be trucked to the facility.
“We are now seeking to have the road repaired to make it easier to truck water here. Not everything can be done overnight as we have to plan where the money will come from and then we take it from there,” the councillor explained.
Member of Parliament for Clarendon North Central Robert Morgan, who commended Mitchell and his colleagues at the Clarendon Municipal Corporation for work done on the project, appealed to residents to play their part in ensuring that the tank is in service for a long time to come.
“As long as they take care of it, we are expecting that it will last them for a very long time as we have put in the latest modern technology,” he said, adding that there are plans to extend the project to other areas in the community.
“When the other programme comes up we're going to seek to interconnect all of these systems so that more people in the Rock River Division will have water,” he said.
Councillor Mitchell already has a list of communities he hopes will benefit.
“For my next project, I am looking at Mitchell's Hill [residents] who are now suffering. Simon and Diamond should be benefitting from the Low Ground project with over 2,000 persons in these two communities that will benefit from that project. I am also in dialogue with a resident in Mitchell's Hill to get a piece of land to put up another catchment tank there. It might take some time but it will be done,” he promised. “As long as I'm a councillor, if I can get more land, I will be going for it because I learnt that not every area will have piped water and if we can put a catchment tank in several other areas, the residents will stand to benefit significantly.”
He is hoping there will be more residents like Brown, who willingly offered his land for use. The 91-year-old explained that it had been an easy decision as he, to, wanted to benefit from the tank.
“The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof and when I leave this place I will not carry anything with me so it's better I give this two square of land to build the tank,” he said.
He has lived in Coxwain all his life and has never benefitted from piped water in that community, he added. “I was born and raised here, all my 14 children born and grow here and is river and spring water we used. I used to carry water on my head as a boy and the children did, too, before dem get big and leave the community,” he explained.
In his heyday as a farmer, Brown said, he depended on the rain or used a donkey to transport water to his farm. He said he is hoping to benefit from the system before he dies.