By Jeff Trotman
The Guyana Water Inc. (GWI) has engaged a contractor to identify all the phantom pipelines that are taking away water from the residents of Blueberry Hill, Linden.
Rawle Friday, Division-al Manager for Guyana Water Inc., made the disclosure on Tuesday at a community development meeting for residents and land owners of Blueberry Hill, Poker Street, Blueberry Hill squatting area and Christianburg.
“Over the years, we have had a lot of old pipelines … We’ve been trying to replace them,” Friday disclosed, noting that self-help work had been done in Blueberry Hill and when he visited a street where someone had complained of a leak, subsequent excavation un-earthed four pipelines in one street.
He said when the pipelines were checked, all of them had water, which indicated that water from the processing plants “is going into some areas and is not being used”.
The GWI Divisional Manager said he has spoken to many people in the community primarily those, who have not been receiving water and he is aware that a lot of people on Blueberry Hill, who are receiving potable water, are not getting an adequate supply.
According to him, the annual operation/maintenance cost at GWI is about $240M. He said GWI currently produces 385,720 gallons of water in Linden but for a number of reasons, including old infrastructure, most of this water is not reaching residents. He elaborated that GWI produces 250 litres per day per capita, which works out to about half a black tank of water per person from the five plants that are currently in operation and while Linden residents are clamouring for a better service it is difficult to adequately meet their needs.
He noted that the five water treatment plants in Linden were built in the decades of the fifties and eighties and they do not have the capacity to produce for their respective communities because Linden has been expanding over the years. He also said the aging plants do not allow for water to be adequately treated and it is difficult to obtain replacement components for these plants. The GWI manager also pointed to limited storage capacity.
“We have had over 164 kilometres of pipelines, which is proving inadequate,” Friday said. “Recently an additional 31 kilometres of pipelines have been installed in an effort to meet the needs and demand of the residents of Linden.”
He also said construction of two water treatment plants commenced last year – one at Amelia’s Ward and the other at Wisroc.“We have put in place to extend the capacity of service by ensuring that we … can now produce water to the residents in excess of current needs because we have put in place a plan for the next twenty years as relates to these two modernized facilities.”
The new plants are scheduled to be completed by the 31st December this year and should be operational by the end of January 2015, Friday said, adding that the two new plants will ensure that where GWI has infrastructure all residents will receive potable water.
The GWI Divisional Manager pointed out that the effectiveness of GWI’s plan “is also hinged upon” the consumers’ ability “to conserve upon water” since the amount of water that people use might not necessarily be the amount that they need. He illustrated the point by stating that after a water meter was attached to his Amelia’s Ward residence he received a bill for the first quarter that amounted to what he paid for unmetered service for a whole year and as a result of implementing conservation methods, his family was able to dramatically lower its quarterly water bill.
He said the various divisions of GWI have been mandated to engage in what is termed “community connect” to ensure that there is mutual understanding between the company and its clients in the respective communities. He further stated that GWI will begin a serious PR programme in July to educate every resident on the importance of water and the importance of conserving.
In response to questions from Blueberry Hill residents, who currently do not receive potable water, Friday said he had promised to look at the areas that already have infrastructure and to make representation to speed up the process.
He said that he had asked if the area was regularized – whether residents had titles for the land, which they occupy – and he was informed that they did not. In this regard, he said consideration is being given to bypass some of the stringent rules and GWI staff will go into the community on Friday 23 May to do documentation, including the photocopying of identification cards, passports, rent receipts, TIN numbers, utility bills and receipts, etc., to begin implementing connections over the next two weeks.
Friday said a lot of background preparatory work will have to be done in unregulated squatting areas because there have been experiences in the past in which GWI installed infrastructure, which had to be uprooted at a cost when the place was subsequently regularized.