WHITE RIVER, St Ann — Approximately 10,000 residents of Exchange in St Ann can now access a reliable supply of water 22 hours a day, ending years of complaints.
On Thursday, the National Water Commission’s $141-million Exchange White River Re-Lift Station and Upton Tank Water System was put into service.
Among the areas to benefit from the upgrade are Middle Street, Father Shop Lane, Corn Piece Street, Prosper Heights, Ms Green Street, Pumpkin Street, sections of Lancewood and Chin Street.
“A long time we a experience this water problem — and when it gone we can’t wash, cook or get to do anything. But now, me can go under my shower and get a good bathe and scrub,” said Middle Street resident Odolyn Gray-Brooks.
She said they have been plagued by water woes for as long as she can remember.
“Me feel good about what NWC has done, trust me,because the water system was so bad,” she added.
Jamaica Labour Party councillor for the Exchange Division, Ian Isaacs was just as elated.
“I’m happy to be here today to realise that something meaningful has happened under my watch. This was a long journey reaching to this stage, and Exchange people in particular will understand what it was like. I did everything in my power to sort out this water crisis because there is nowhere in Jamaica that should be without adequate pipe water distribution,” he expressed. “It was a promise that I made to our former Member of Parliament Shahine Robinson.”
The Exchange White River pump station is equipped with 200hp pumps, has the capacity to be fully automated, and work was also done to replace all electro-mechanical equipment and upgrade the power supply. There was a replacement of a 50,000-gallon steel tank with a 10,000-gallon, glass-fused tank at the Upton Tank Water System.
Speaking during the commissioning ceremony in White River, minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Matthew Samuda urged residents to report any signs of illegal water connections.
“We ask citizens to become informers. If you see someone accessing a water line illegally, they are putting the entire network at risk. So buy, beg a credit or a quick call, and report them; we will react to it. We not asking anyone to do anything brave apart from making the call,” he encouraged.
The minister noted that in order for the NWC to make further investments to upgrade other facilities, residents must play their role.
“When we make an investment of $140 million there is another side of the coin that we have to take on — it has to be the responsibility on the part of citizens to call out your neighbours if they try to steal water from the line. The reality is, we cannot continue to do these sorts of upgrades if we do not have orderly participation from citizens,” Samuda urged.
Debbie Walker, who lives in Prosper Hall, Exchange, was in full support of the minister’s call.
“I would encourage other residents to go the correct way, and also pay their water bills on time. They made the effort to give us water so that is the least we can do and make everything work good — because when we are without water it is not nice,” she said.
Member of Parliament for St Ann North East Marsha Smith, who was also at the commissioning ceremony, spoke of the burden being faced by the NWC due to illegal water connections.
“The commissioning today is just going to be a memorial to those who have put in the work in the past. It is now the responsibility of us the customers to do our part and get connected legally, and minimise the non-revenue water. When you go on the NWC’s website you will see that there is big project nationwide to address the losses to the water commission from non-revenue water,” said Smith.
She encouraged residents to pay their water bills on time and report leakages in their homes and businesses.