Chronic water shortage in Westmoreland Western constituency to be eased soonThursday, May 07, 2020
BY ROSALEE WOOD
BRIGHTON, Westmoreland - The chronic water shortage being experienced by residents in many communities across the constituency of Westermoreland Western is expected to be eased soon, as several entities are working assiduously to bring the much-needed commodity to the affected areas.
Residents have long complained about the lack of water, but in recent weeks their plea has become more vociferous due to the COVID-19 pandemic and current drought conditions.
According to Member of Parliament for Westmoreland Western, Dr Wykeham McNeill, several of the affected communities, which include Brighton, Hopewell and Orange Hill, are expected to get piped water within the next few days under the National Water Commission (NWC's) $455-million Nonpareil Water Supply Mains Replacement and Upgrading Project, which was started more than two years ago.
The project, which is being undertaken in several phases, involves the replacement of the existing transmission and distribution mains from Sheffield to Little London; Sheffield to the Nonpareil Relift Station; Negril Lighthouse to Orange Hill; Mount Airy to Good Hope and Whitehall, and from the Mount Airy tank to Orange Hill.
But while aspects of the project have been completed, other areas have been dogged by a slew of challenges, the latest of which is the closure of the NWC's commercial office in Westmoreland, as part of efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Chairman of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation, Bertel Moore, who is also councillor for the Negril Division, argued that “with less staff at work, the full project, which was already in motion, has been slowed”.
“This includes the installation of water metres and the laying of additional pipelines for Brighton and surrounding communities,” Moore cited.
As a result of the closure too, residents interested in getting piped water were asked to submit online their applications.
The request, however, proved to be challenging for several residents who do not have Internet facilities.
But, Mc Neill told the Jamaica Observer West that arising from discussions with representatives of the NWC, a decision was reached for the residents to apply “manually”.
“What I have done is to send out my team to manually collect the necessary information required from each resident for the registration, and the NWC has agreed to accept the information we submit,” said the Westmoreland Western MP.
McNeill said, so far more than 180 applications have been received from Brighton residents, adding that the NWC has assured him that they will have piped water in their homes within another week.
He noted that a brand new water pump has been commissioned into service in Jerusalem Mountain and residents in that community should have water in their taps as soon as the water mains are sterilised.
Moore pointed out that in an effort to ease the water shortage also, the commodity is being trucked to several affected communities, including Alma and Camp Savanna, on a weekly basis.
And highlighting that due to insufficient trucks to transport the water and Westmoreland only having two approved loading bays, “the water distribution times have been negatively impacted.”
He added, however, that plans are in place to install additional loading bays in Negril, Little London, Whitehouse, and Darliston in the parish.
He further stated that while residents can purchase water from water trucks at will, they must look out for their best interest by “requesting to see the certification that indicates that the truck has been sterilised and approved by the NWC.
“They should also request to see the water receipts from the truck drivers, which prove that the water they receive is coming from one of the approved loading bays. Trucks used by the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation must be sterilised every four months by the NWC, who provides a proof of sterilisation certification to each,” he explained.
Last month, residents in several communities in the constituency of Westmoreland Western accused some water truck operators of distributing contaminated water to them.
And following investigations into the matter by the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation, Moore warned that offenders will face the full brunt of the law.
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