SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth – Following years of inconsistent or no water supply, scores of residents in this south-central town and its environs slated to benefit from a pipeline project are eagerly awaiting its commissioning.
The Santa Cruz Pipeline Project was among 21 projects announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in his 2023/2024 Budget Debate presentation.
With a projected expenditure of more than $2.5 billion, the project will see National Water Commission (NWC) services being extended to new communities through the building of new dams in Clarendon, St Ann, St Catherine, Trelawny, St Elizabeth, St Andrew, St Mary, St Thomas, and Westmoreland.
Councillor Christopher Williams (Santa Cruz, Jamaica Labour Party) told the Jamaica Observer that he welcomes the inclusion of Santa Cruz in plans by the Government for improved water supply.
"A number of communities will benefit from the same project, including Brighton, New River, Doctor Rock and Harmony Lane. This project is significant to the Santa Cruz area and its environs as the area would have expanded spatially over the years, which has increased the demand for water as well as the negative impact it would have on service delivery by the NWC," he said on Monday.
"The New River community will benefit greatly as the pipelines in the area are in need of replacement. The NWC team is there on a regular basis to repair broken mains," he added.
Williams said residents are eager to see consistent water supply in their pipes.
"The communities to benefit, we welcome this initiative by the Government and we are anxiously waiting for the start of this project," said Williams.
Kingsley Clarke, a resident of New River, told the Observer that his community has suffered from inconsistent supply in some areas due to broken mains.
"The pipeline into New River was first done in the 70s. Therefore, the pipes are extremely old and in the last five years, we have been having a problem with breakage of the line. Water Commission has been taking forever to fix these leaks," he said.
Clarke said the leaks have resulted in the deterioration of the community road.
"A road that was done in 2016 is in a deplorable condition in certain sections, because when the pipes leak the water stays on the road for weeks, so the road deteriorates. In many cases, I would say that they actually turn down the pressure coming into the areas to minimise the breakage. Some areas in New River right now are not receiving any water at any good pressure, because of that," he said.
"Up to last week we had three leaks for more than a month and just as they fixed them another one opened, so the pipeline as I am aware would then benefit New River in a great way, because these old pipes would be replaced, so it can't happen too soon," he added.
Lennie Campbell, a resident of Santa Cruz, told the Observer that he welcomes the project, but wants more information about the scope of work and timeline for its implementation.
"It is of great assistance to the citizenry, especially the Brighton area and the offshoots once it is implemented… At Doctor Rock, you have Hyman Town and some other places there. The scope of work would cover a wide area of citizens and the citizens would welcome it. We just hope it is not just an announcement," he said.
"A lot of people now have to be buying water and not everybody can afford the black drums, so if they get water in the tap then they pay their water bill," he added.
When contacted, NWC Regional Manager Jermaine Jackson said he could not give a timeline for the implementation of the project. "There is no timeline as we haven't even tendered [the project] as yet. We are going to change the pipes in New River," he said.
"Even before the [Santa Cruz] bypass line is changed, we might fix the pipes in New River," he added.
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