The heavy rainfall last week has caused major problems for the state-controlled National Water Sewage Authority (NAWASA) as most of the island’s parishes suffered disruptions in their water supplies.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference last week, General Manager of NAWASA, Christopher Husbands sought to assure the nation that the utility is doing everything possible to remedy the situation.
Husbands said the situation was normalised in some areas of the country but there are some places that are experiencing disruption.
He pointed out that the authority seems to face more problems when there is heavy rainfall on the island as opposed to when there is none at all.
“Persons must understand that too much rain can be more of a problem than too little rain. If it’s too much rain we are unable to treat the water. In some cases we have to shut the plants totally down because the water is just too dirty – the plant cannot treat it. If we try to bring that (water) into the system, it’s going to come out in the houses dirty,” he remarked.
Husbands stated that every time NAWASA is faced with a problem such as this, there is a cost attached to it but he was unable to tell reporters how much it is costing the authority to turn the situation around.
“In 2013 we had this problem in St Patrick where we had this one plant up there. I think at the end of the day that cost us about 80,000 dollars over a three week period because of that plant being down and we had to truck (water) to St Andrew and St Mark”, he said.
“…I don’t want to give you a cost because I don’t have it but at the end of the day these are costs we can’t avoid because if we are faced with the climatic conditions we’re faced with, we still have to try our best to maintain some supply to people even if it’s going to cost more – you can’t not supply (to people) because it’s going to cost more,” he added.
The NAWASA General Manager alluded to the fact that the company would have to do some damage control in order to inform people that the disruption in their water supply is not entirely their fault.
Describing it as a setback for now, Husbands said that NAWASA has no choice but to assure the people of its commitment to them.
“We have to continue investing in the water sector, to minimise the effects of these kinds of climatic changes. You are always going to have the constant challenges associated with climate change … more intense (weather) events, longer dry periods and that’s a fact of nature right now and to the extent that man is influencing nature that’s a whole debate…”, he said.
“What we have to do as a country and certainly as utilities is continue to invest in the system that we can mitigate against the negative impact of these kinds of events, which are likely going to come. We need to develop raw water storage to take us through the periods of low rainfall in the dry season and we need to develop more treated water storage for events like this in the rainy season so when the rivers are too dirty and we cannot pull the water from the river to treat it, we have treated water storage sufficient to keep the supply going for a number of days,” he added.
Husbands also encouraged consumers to develop their own water treatment storage systems to help themselves whenever nature strikes.