By Doodnath Bhola
Having read the Express editorial of November 20, it has become necessary to respond in order to correct certain misunderstandings contained therein. Without dwelling on the promise of “water for all’’, it should be noted that as we entered this new century, the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) was able to achieve significant improvements in the delivery of a water supply across through the completion of the North, South and Tobago Water Projects. These projects provided the wider population with greater access to a pipe borne water supply, albeit not on a continuous basis.
Unfortunately, there was a lack of significant investment in the sector over the period 2001 to 2010, which stunted and even eroded some of the progress made during the earlier thrust, resulting in the 18 per cent 24/7 supply baseline noted in 2010. It should also be noted that between 2010 to present, there have been concerted efforts on the part of WASA’s line ministry, firstly the Ministry of Public Utilities and then the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, to provide the necessary funding required to execute the authority’s infrastructural development plans, aimed at delivering a 24/7 supply to all its customers by 2015.
Some of the key projects already completed under this plan include replacement of the 28-kilometre Navet Trunk Main from Tabaquite and St Clements; the Old Hollis North Trunk Main between Valencia and Port of Spain, as well as seven kilometres of the Courland Transmission Main from Plymouth Road to Buccoo Road, among many others.
The thrust in major pipeline replacement is continuing with projects across the country including 28 kilometres of a 44-inch diameter pipeline, which is currently being installed from Piarco to Couva, along with replacement of the high leakage at Old Hollis South Trunk Main, both of which will provide improved system operation.
Additionally, a programme of works is being undertaken to increase overall capacities, while improving the reliability of the infrastructure. Some of these projects include rehabilitation of the Caroni, Navet, North Oropouche, Hollis, Courland and Richmond Water Treatment plants; installation of key transmission pipelines between Siparia and Penal, along Maracas Royal Road, St Joseph; from Cunupia to Las Lomas; and between Lowlands and Buccoo in Tobago; construction of new booster stations at Savonetta and Bagatelle and construction of storage reservoirs at Arouca, Charlotteville, Mayaro, Arena, Diego Martin and Plaisance Park.
To address water supply needs on a localised basis, water treatment facilities were constructed at La Fillette, Talparo, Penal, Point Fortin and Matura, in order to overcome deficits in supply to these areas. The authority has also embarked on a well development programme that has resulted in the drilling and equipping of nine wells located in Point Fortin, PoS, and Santa Cruz in Trinidad and Louis D’Or in Tobago.
To date, the projects undertaken by the authority has seen the installation of approximately 683 kilometres of pipelines, at a cost of $863 million, with a total of some 330,000 persons now benefitting from a 24/7 supply. Some of these include the residents of Covigne, Diego Martin, Big Yard, Carenage, Union and Bristol villages in Mayaro, Biche, Marabella, Chaguanas, Princes Town, Caura, Matura, Bon Air, Arima Old Road, Arena, Freeport, Mission Road, Chin Chin Road, Rio Claro, Debe, Carenage, Santa Cruz and Coconut Drive, Morvant among others, who are now in receipt of a 24/7 pipe borne service.
As the Water and Sewerage Authority, it is critical that we do not lose sight of our responsibilities in relation to sewage collection and treatment. Along with plans to improve water delivery to our customers, the authority has also been working to address the shortfalls in the wastewater sector. This is being pursued through funding secured by the Government from the Inter-American Development Bank, for the Multi-Phase Wastewater Rehabilitation Programme, which will involve the following works:
• Integration of eight wastewater systems in Maloney
• Expansion of collection systems and treatment facilities at Malabar and San Fernando.
There will also be the rehabilitation of the Scarborough Wastewater Treatment Plant and connection of 215 properties to the collection system, under the Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater —CReW. When completed, these projects are expected to significantly increase the number of persons connected to centralised wastewater systems from 30 per cent currently to approximately 44 per cent over an eight-year period.