Sewer acts up again in Mt Gay housing

Public health on the island is again being threatened by the faulty sewer system at the government-operated Mt Gay Housing Development.

Sewer tank where water is overflowing

THE NEW TODAY newspaper understands that within the last two months there has been evidence that the old problems have sprung up again.

The sewer system is overflowing and giving off an awful stench from sewer gas, hydrogen sulfide.

Last year, the sewer woes forced workers at the nearby Mt Gay Mental Hospital to protest publicly after members of staff began to be affected by the sewer gas.

Employees at the hospital are once again complaining as the problem seems to have worsened.

It has been almost a year and a half since the government-controlled National Water and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA) was handed control of the facility but no long-term measures have yet been taken to address the problems.

NAWASA officials had considered utilising an existing sewer drain close by which served the hospital before but that has not materialised.

A four-man team was contracted by NAWASA to maintain the sewer, something which involves periodic washing of the sand which filters the waste.

Sewer water accumulating in drain built for better flow into the river

The sewer system serves hundreds of families in town houses, apartments and duplexes and has been faulty from the start.

However, those most badly affected by the dangerous emissions resulting from the malfunctioning of the sewer are the patients and staff at the nearby mental hospital.

Exposure to hydrogen sulfide causes irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract, nervousness, dizziness, nausea, headache, and drowsiness.

This gas smells like rotten eggs, even at extremely low concentrations.

A big part of the problem is that the run-off does not go to a sewer drain but flows into nearby rocks and eventually into the St John River which passes through the village of River Road.

Users of a nearby road are forced to walk through the waste run-off to and from their homes in nearby residential areas as well as the workers and visitors entering the Mt Gay Mental Hospital on foot.

The problem has resulted in the roadway being perpetually wet and green from bacteria.

Sewer left uncovered, allowing mosquitos to breed

This has been the cause of at least one slip and fall incident involving an elderly woman.

Additionally, since NAWASA took over the facility the tanks which filter the waste have been uncovered, creating a breeding ground for mosquitos, which are now terrorising residents in the area.

Health Minister Nickolas Steele had prematurely declared the problem resolved last year and Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchel had met with hospital workers, seeking to allay their concerns over the poor handling of the public health problem.

Experts in the field have said it could cost several hundred thousand dollars to create a permanent or long term fix to the sewer problem.

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