The Guyana Water Inc (GWI) is considering investing in drones and other surveillance technology to thwart illegal mining that has resulted in over $2M in damage to its distribution lines in Mahdia, Region 8, Managing Director Dr. Richard Van West-Charles said.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Van West-Charles said that their operations in Mahdia are being affected by illegal mining as they have recorded over 100 breaks and leaks in their distribution system caused deliberately by illegal miners. This has been a recurring problem.
“We are seeking to draw attention to the wider community of Region 8 of this illegal activity which is impacting negatively on the distribution systems in and around Mahdia. It’s impacting on the availability of water and the quality and this is the illegal mining activity in the area,” he explained, while pointing out that they have noticed more breaks and leaks in the Water Dog area.
He said that at one time they recorded over 100 leaks and the current damage to the system will cost over $2 million to fix, which they have not budgeted for.
“We are seeking to collaborate with the Regional Administration, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, and the Police but it is really getting out of control and we now need the communities to be involved in helping to stop this type of illegal activity so that the system can be sustainable and restored to serve the population,” Van West-Charles declared. He said that the miners have used hammers and chisels to puncture the distribution pipes.
Since the pipes usually have large cracks, the repair methods that GWI would normally utilise to fix leaks do not work and they would usually have to replace large sections, which he said often results in the entire distribution system being turned off for a period of time.
As a result of the persistent attacks on the distribution system, Van West-Charles said that they will be considering procuring surveillance technology to assist with finding and reporting illegal mining activities.
“We will have to look at some high tech surveillance technology for this activity. I wouldn’t rule out GWI investing in one or two drones to help us to do our own surveillance and provide information to the police and the GGMC but the GGMC should also consider other ways and means of monitoring the illegal activity in mining,” he said, while emphasising that he would prefer if the system would be better at thwarting the illegal activity.
Van West-Charles said that when the illegal miners break the distribution pipes the pressure and quality of water being delivered to the residents of Mahdia and the surrounding communities drop significantly and sometimes the chemicals they use can get into the system.
“We don’t know what chemicals these illegal miners are using and that is another side of the coin,” he said, while pointing out that over 8,000 residents could be affected.
The water company’s distribution system runs several kilometres from Sambora Creek to Mahdia.