‘Waterless’ Christmas for many Jamaican households

National Water Commission Corporate Public Relations Manager, Charles Buchanan

(Jamaica Observer) SEVERAL issues affecting operations at the National Water Commission (NWC) have caused major water lock-offs across the Corporate Area, the entity’s Corporate Public Relations Manager Charles Buchanan has said.

In fact, water lock-offs are expected to affect Christmas Day activities in some households, even as the NWC carries out repair work on several broken pipelines.

“Yes, we are experiencing severe problems due to an unfortunate combination of issues, at the base of which is the major problem at the pipeline out at Ferry, which was broken and must be repaired,” Buchanan told the Jamaica Observeryesterday.

Added to that, Buchanan said that the country has entered into the usual dry season, accompanied by major and repeat breaks of pipelines along Spanish Town Road and on Constant Spring Road.

“Those particular areas have critical distribution infrastructure, so whenever breaks occur on those pipes in the network, either the break itself causes a disruption in the supply or attempts to do the repairs forces a shutdown in the system — which causes disruption,” he said.

“We’re doing everything we can to have the system up and running so that water is available. But unfortunately, we do realistically see that there are going to be some areas that will have, for the next several days and perhaps for longer, some level of intermittent supply or low water pressure,” he added.

Buchanan, in a subsequent news release, said that there is a major break on the Ferry/Mandela transmission pipeline in an area that is effectively inaccessible, as it is under approximately 35 feet of earth and road construction material.

He said that this has deprived the NWC of approximately five million gallons of water per day and disconnected a major source of supply to areas including Cooreville Gardens, Duhaney Park, Washington Gardens, Patrick City, Ziadie Gardens, State Gardens, Molynes Gardens, Moreton Park, Olympic Way, New Haven, Coburn Gardens, Seaview Gardens, Washington Boulevard, Dunrobin Avenue, Molynes Road, and roads leading off.

“Every effort is being made to fast-track the completion of a new replacement pipeline already being constructed as part of the road improvement project, as all other options have proven impractical. For example, consideration was given to constructing a temporary bypass pipeline but this was proving to require a pipeline in excess of one mile long and would also be costly and could take months for completion,” said Buchanan.

He noted that in the interim, water from other systems such as the Rio Cobre/Tulloch Springs, Havendale, Forest Hills, Constant Spring, Mona and Hope water supply systems are being shared and redirected to make up for the loss of the water from the Ferry system.

“Frequent breaks on the series of major pipelines along Constant Spring Road as a result of ongoing road construction work often forces the shutdown of the Constant Spring Water Treatment Plant, several times each week. In fact, the plant is now shut down to facilitate emergency repairs on a 10-inch transmission main,” Buchanan stated in the release.

As a result, areas such as Constant Spring Gardens, Norbrook, Cherry Gardens, Barbican, Manor Park, Shortwood, Eastwood Park Gardens, Molynes Road, Waltham Park Road, Olympic Way, Bay Farm Road, Hagley Park Road, Dunrobin Avenue, Calabar Mews, Ziadie Gardens, State Gardens, Mannings Hill Road, Red Hills Road, Constant Spring Road, Half-Way-Tree, Valentine Gardens, Meadowbrook, Queensborough, and Roehampton have all been impacted by frequent disruptions.

“Frequent breaks on Spanish Town Road result in major pipelines requiring shutdowns to effect repairs. Attempts to supply more water via these pipelines as a response to the Ferry/Mandela pipeline break has unfortunately contributed to an increase in the frequency of breaks on this pipeline in the last two weeks,” he said.

An electrical failure at the Forest Hills Deep Well over the weekend has forced the facility out of operation, impacting areas such as Red Hills, Brentwood, Leas Flat, Belvedere, Mosquito Valley, Sterling Castle, Forest Hills, Perkins Boulevard, Meadowbrook Estate, and Queensborough, Buchanan said.

He said that the issues have since been corrected and water supply is now being restored to the areas served.

“Although the National Water Commission is reporting significant success in its five-year-long Kingston and St Andrew Non-Revenue Water Reduction Programme, the NWC also acknowledges that this necessary work has also created some unavoidable short-term disruptions in the water supply to the Corporate Area.

“The onset of the December-April dry season has also not helped the situation. While some of these disruptions and inconveniences will continue, the National Water Commission assures its customers that every effort is being made to move water across the city in the best way possible. The NWC takes no pleasure whenever there are disruptions and especially during this festive season. However, our teams are committed to lessening the impacts created and as such will be working continuously during this period,” said Buchanan.

The Observer has also received reports of communities in rural Jamaica, among them Thompson Town in Clarendon, that have been without water for at least the past four weeks.

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