Residents of Bounty Hall in Trelawny staged a protest on Tuesday morning to demand action to address the lack of water in their community.
The residents claimed that their taps have been without the precious commodity for the last eight weeks despite the community being home to a massive reservoir and sitting between two major water supply areas, the Queen of Spain Valley's and Martha Brae.
Reaching their boiling point, the residents took to the streets in a peaceful manner, while being very vocal about the challenges they are facing.
"We want water, we want water," were the cries of residents as they stood in the community square, armed with placards while calling on the authorities, in particular the National Water Commission (NWC), to remedy the situation.
Among the protesters was Dorette Anderson, who explained that the lack of regular water is having a major impact on her family.
"It's going on to three months now without water, so we need water now, it's time enough. I have mi grandchildren them who going to school and have to bathe every day and I don't like to keep dirty clothes in mi house, so I need water to wash them and to wash the old body here," said Anderson.
"Mi feel sweaty and want a shower now," added Anderson.
Fellow community resident Faithline Gillings shared Anderson's sentiments, but she said she is a little better off because she lives alone.
"If you see what me a bathe with. Sometimes, I can't even use the bathroom on the inside just to avoid the constant flushing. Unless mi a defecate, mi no go in a the bathroom, mi a tell you the truth, in order fi no flush the toilet too often," said Gillings.
"Mi have to pinch the water and it's hard. Mi bathe last night [and] mi couldn't bathe this morning to come out here. Mi have fin make one bathe per day because mi can't afford to bathe two times, that's the type of life we are living now," added Gillings.
The residents were also angry over the bills they have been receiving from the National Water Commission.
"Why are we getting bills and no water?" said Cleveland Todd, as he was supported by fellow residents who charged that some people have had their service disconnected in recent weeks for non-payment.
"The man dem a come round and cut off the water and yet no water not in the pipe. Where the bills a come from?" questioned one resident.
The residents also claimed that they have had to be buying water from private sources that can cost between $2,500 and $7,000 each time they have to replenish which is an average twice each month.
They further charged that in some instances water that was supposed to be trucked to the community and distributed for free is being sold to them.
"Why is the water truck selling the water? It come and it sell the water and where them sell the water, they come right there and turn back, them not giving we none at all," charged Cleveland Todd.
Councillor Jonathan Bartley (Jamaica Labour Party, Wakefield division) told the Jamaica Observer that he has been getting complaints as well.
"It is alleged that they are selling the water to people, so the normal person not getting any water. Although the water is coming into Bounty Hall through the truck, the people not getting the water," said Bartley.
"It is also alleged that the people who operate the truck, they are doing their own thing with the water. So the regular person not getting the water and even if a person should ask for water, they will tell you they can't go on the housetop to draw the hose but yet down the line you see them on a person house-top giving somebody water," said Bartley.
This is not the first time that the lack of water in the community has drawn the ire of residents. However, in the past, one of the main reasons was that the NCW pump was not working properly.
This time, the issue surrounds the fact that the drought has limited the intake of water in the reservoir which, according to Bartley, the pump cannot access when it reaches a certain level.
"We understand that there is a drought situation and what happens is that if the water falls below seven feet where the pump is set in the middle, because the reservoir is 14-feet, then it can't pump up that water," he explained.
According to Bartley, the authorities have indicated that they plan to pump some water to the reservoir to assist but that has yet to become a reality.
"They say there is a leak on Martha Brae line for over one year and because of that they don't want to pump out any water because they don't want the leak to get any bigger. However, what I am saying, it is already leaking for a year, so what difference will it make?" he questioned.
Bartley pointed out that since the water problem has again emerged, it has impacted not only the residents, but the school and the health centre that are also located in the community.
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