Residents appeal for solution to water woes

IMAGINE having to be cautious about how frequently you flush your toilet. That’s the reality of Mount Stewart district residents in Wilmington, St Thomas, who claim they have been without consistent piped water for 20 years, as the world commemorates World Water Day.

The residents say they receive trucked water from the National Water Commission (NWC) weekly, but they are sometimes left without supply for long periods when the truck doesn’t turn up.

One resident, Navar Johnson, was born and raised in Wilmington. He told the Jamaica Observer on a recent visit to the community that he has to store rainwater in containers for use by his household.

“Wi haffi hope and pray that the rain fall so wi can get water and save it inna drum, so wi can flush our toilet and wash plate…We set [containers] fi get rainwater fi do weh we wah do. When wi get good water, wi save that and use it fi drinking; wi buy water fi drink. We affi use the water really sting[ily],” the 38-year-old said.

Johnson added that he only gets running water if it rains heavily.

“The rain affi fall long so the river dem come dung and the spring dem overflow. We will get likkle water [through the pipes] fi all two months and a it that. Sometimes wi haffi walk guh couple miles well fi get some water when rain nuh fall fi months and when wi have drought; wi affi sometimes push all wheelbarrow fi carry water fi full up drum. Sometimes wi haffi mek couple trips well,” he explained.

The resident, who says he knows no other home outside of Wilmington, said the water issues is the only thing plaguing the community.

“Normally, more people woulda deh round if it wasn’t for the water problem. Right now wi have it rough with no water. Wi haffi a walk go way out a one pipe a one little spring fi water more time… and a long time wi a do it. A it we know ’bout from wi a grow up until now; more than 20 years now we have this water problem,” he lamented.

“It really rough. Wi just a hope and a pray that one day the water system will really change,” Johnson added.

For 40-year-old David Edmondson, too, the water issue is a serious challenge.

“This is from I was a child,” he complained. “The water situation was good in the 90s but since lately, only the trucks from NWC come in and give us some water on a weekly basis. So, me woulda like the water system fi be much better. In the 90s, 1992, 1993 suh, we used to have water, but you know climate change and water kinda really get down low,” he said.

Edmondson told the Observer that the last time he had running water was after the heavy rains that pummelled the island in November 2020.

“It was good…good water,” he said, noting that the water was potable. “We had water, but I think something did wrong with the pump at that time, so they [NWC] just keep on trucking us some water from that time until now.”

But the residents do not think being dependent on torrential rains is enough.

Edmondson is adamant that something needs to be done to improve the situation.

“It might be that the system need to upgrade so we can have better water. In Wilmington, wi find out that the water resource is very low, so that’s why wi don’t have any water in our community now. When rain fall fi a period of time, we have water. Is only when the rain fall wi have water from the pipe fi a good likkle while, and then when the system run low, we don’t have any water again,” he said.

Johnson echoed Edmondson’s sentiments, saying an intervention is necessary because the water truck from the NWC is not dependable.

“It nah last more than two weeks… a two weeks the most it last. And a because wi haffi a use it wid caution fi it [last that long]. Wi cyaan mek it waste because a nuff time, all fi months upon months, the truck nuh really come,” the resident claimed.

Another resident said: “We are really tired of this. The pipes are dry. Certain pipes in the area, the last time I see water run from them was when mi a likkle, likkle boy a guh school. What happen? I don’t know. We are left on our own… thank God for the rivers and springs around the place, and thank God for rain when it do fall.”

When contacted for a comment yesterday, Corporate public relations manager at the NWC Andrew Canon said he would make some checks. No update was received up to press time last night.

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