Kaituma Creek dredges were operating in ‘prohibited’ zone

-activities halted, probe into water pollution underway

Several dredge operations, blamed for polluting the Kaituma Creek, in the North West District, were operating in a “prohibited” zone, according to Region One Chairman Fermin Singh.

The dredge owners have since halted their operations while Port Kaituma residents have since reported that the quality of the water running through their taps has improved.

The residents accused the dredges of polluting the waterway, which is the main source of water for the waterfront community and samples have been taken for testing by officials of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC).

Singh told Stabroek News on Monday that the GGMC had sent in a team of specialists to carry out tests of the water quality. He also noted that mines officers in the region were advised by their superiors of the situation. He said it may have been a case where the mines officers were new to the area and “they may not have known that mining was forbidden along the banks of the Kaituma Creek.”

Singh said the area where the miners were operating had been declared as “prohibited” from mining operations some time ago.

Reports are that the operators of the land dredges halted their operations over the weekend, while officers of the GGMC were said to be investigating.

Residents told this newspaper on Monday that some two days ago the water quality had improved. Most persons noted that the authorities have been actively investigating the matter.

An environmental officer based in the Matthew’s Ridge area, also in the Matarkai Sub-Region, travelled to the area and took samples of the water and these were said to be in the city awaiting tests. A private contractor was operating the water pump in the area along with servicing the pipelines.

Residents told this newspaper last week that several dredge owners were operating land dredges more than four miles from Central Port Kaituma along the creek. Some two months ago, they noticed that their water was discoloured; exhibiting mainly a yellowish colour. 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 on Friday that the regional office had received reports of the situation recently and the authorities along with the GGMC were addressing the situation.

Many householders in the area cannot afford water tanks, this newspaper was told, and as a result 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.

Meantime, Singh noted that a similar situation at Matthew’s Ridge had also improved. Last weekend, residents told this newspaper that there was a water shortage that they blamed on the actions of a company operating in the area.

Singh said the authorities had “cut the main road” in the area to lay pipes and construct a road and the muddied result of the works coupled with rainfall caused “some amount of discolouration” of the community’s water. He said regional authorities had been addressing the situation, while adding that it should be brought under control shortly.

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