Kaituma River found to have high mercury content

-alternative sources to be found for residents, GWI says

GWI officials near where the mercury was discovered (GWI photo)

Though surface water is the main source of water supply for the residents of Port Kaituma, Region One, the Guyana Water Incorporated has committed to making alternative sources available, after a high mercury content was found in the Kaituma River. 

According to a media release from the Guyana Water Inc (GWI), this assurance was given in the wake of test results in May which revealed mercury levels higher than the concentration acceptable to the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Kaituma River, thus making it unsafe for use. GWI has since ceased pumping the water to residents. Monday’s press release was for the first known mention of the testing of the Kaituma River and the discovery of high mercury levels.

GWI’s Managing Director, Dr. Richard Van West-Charles and a team of officials met with the Matarkai Neighbourhood Democratic Council in Port Kaituma, last Saturday, to discuss with them, the company’s challenges and plans.

GWI intends to activate two wells in the community, one at Turn Basin and another at Citrus Grove, Port Kaituma, according to the GWI release. Executive Director of Project Implementation and Partnership Building, Ramchand Jailal noted that when operational, they will still be insufficient to serve all the residents at the same time as the production is low. 

The Managing Director informed the NDC Councillors that GWI wants to work with them to identify a suitable site to commence drilling of a new well immediately. The services of a contractor who recently drilled a well in the neighbouring community of Oronoque, has been secured and work is expected to begin shortly. Jailal added that 200ft from the current turn basin well would be an ideal location to drill the new well which is expected to be completed within two to three weeks and the water will be gravity-fed to homes from an existing storage tank.

 “When the tests return we will share with the Region and GWI will work with the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission to take a strong stance on mining activities here. We will also test other sources such as creeks and springs,” Dr Van West-Charles was quoted as saying in the release.

Margaret Lambert, Chairperson of the Matarkai NDC, committed to working with the Guyana Lands and Survey Commission, so as to agree on a suitable location for drilling to commence.

According to the GWI release, in an effort to provide an improved service to the community, Dr. Van West-Charles also committed GWI to: ensuring the Oronoque well is completed within two weeks, completing a new well at Arakaka, installing a C2 Lifesaver filter tank at the Port Kaituma Hospital, ensuring a sufficient water supply for the new school term and exploring additional water sources at Four Mile to supply the Pittsburgh and the One & a half mile areas.

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