Residents of Pork Kaituma, in the North West District, Region One, are reporting the pollution of the nearby Kaituma Creek, which is sole source of drinking water in the community.
Residents say that several dredge owners are operating land dredges more than four miles from Central Port Kaituma along the creek and some two months ago they noticed that their water was discoloured. Water from the well in the area is sourced from the creek and is filtered before being released into the pipes.
Acting Regional Executive Officer (REO) of Region One Nigel Fisher told Stabroek News from Mabaruma yesterday that the regional office had received reports of the situation recently and that the regional authorities along with the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) was addressing the situation. He said that an environmental officer was dispatched to the area as a result of the situation.
Efforts to reach the GGMC for a comment yesterday were futile as persons there said the relevant environmental officer was in the fields.
Spokesman for the Guyana Water Inc (GWI) Timothy Austin told this newspaper that the well in the area was not functioning but that the entity was examining the situation. This newspaper understands that GWI issued a contract to a contractor to operate the water station at Port Kaituma more than a year ago.
According to Port Kaituma resident Richard Allen, many householders in the area cannot afford water tanks and because of this the water running through the pipes is the only source of drinking water for many, while most people use the water for cooking and washing purposes. He said that the some time last year, residents raised complaints about the situation with then GGMC commissioner, William Woolford, who was visiting the area.
He said that at the time residents pointed out that several mining operations along the creek were contaminating the water, which flows down towards the community, with tailings used in the mining operations. He said Woolford immediately dispatched officers to investigate the matter and the situation subsequently subsided.
Allen explained that Woolford subsequently held a meeting with residents on the issue and noted that the GGMC ordered that no mining was to be carried out in the area, much to the relief of residents.
Allen noted yesterday that the schools, hospital and other official facilities rely on the creek as a main source of water, which is worrying residents.
According to a Citrus Grove resident, a few weeks ago, she observed the water running through the pipe in her front yard as having a “milky looking yellowish colour.” She explained that where she lived, water would run through the pipes between the hours of 10 am to 2 pm, while other sections of Port Kaituma, such as Fitzburg, would receive water earlier in the day with a similar cut off time. She said that many persons would fill their water tanks in the event the water station experienced problems, mainly mechanical in nature.