Several minor water supply systems in rural St. Catherine are to be rehabilitated by the St. Catherine Parish Council, with over $4 million secured from the European Union (EU) to help execute the programme.
This was announced by Mayor of Spanish Town, Dr. Andrew Wheatley, at the official commissioning into service of the Pear Tree Grove minor water supply on Wednesday (April 8).
The money was secured through the EU’s programme supporting displaced banana workers. Communities benefiting fall within the banana growing belt, relatively close to St. Mary, including Bagby, Facey, Luxie and Facey Bottom.
Chairman of the St, Catherine Parish Council Mayor Andrew Wheatly (centre) assures Member of Parliament for North East St. Catherine, Gregory Mair (right) of the quality of the water at the commissioning of the Pear Tree Grove minor water supply on Wednesday(April 8). Councillor William Cytal (left) of the Troja division and members of the community look on.
The Mayor said that discussions are far advanced to get the programme started as soon as possible.
“The EU will be giving us $4 million, and we have to take on an additional $1 million from our own funds which is 20 percent of the cost. We’ve already done our estimates and we’re looking at securing the contractor to start the work. So this is no idle promise, it is money that must be spent quickly,” he assured.
Turning to the commissioning of the Pear Tree Grove minor water supply system, which will deliver potable water to some 400 households, and an additional 300 when the system is further upgraded, the Mayor pleaded with residents to respect the water supply and treat it with care.
He said that it was not free water, that it was there to serve everyone equally and, therefore, each household has an obligation to maintain the service.
“We must bear the cost of chlorinating it to ensure that it is safe for consumption. We have to ensure that we pay our electricity bill that the pump can continue to work, and that is why I am imploring residents to get connected to the system,” he said.
He also noted that the Parish Council was currently offering a reduction in connection fees, down to $2000 from $3,000.
Gerald Murray, of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) which provided $13.2 million in funding for the project, told the gathering that the decision to invest in it was never regretted, in spite of the many obstacles that delayed its implementation.
Member of Parliament for North East St. Catherine, Gregory Mair, who played a lead role in getting the project re-started and completed, noted that 10 years wait was much too long, and underscored the need for residents to utilise the facility and care it.
“If you’re not connected legally, I am giving the Parish Council my full support in doing what is necessary, because we cannot have persons abusing the system,” he said.
“I don’t want to see that you’re paying a flat rate and you tie it into your field, or that you have 10 other houses down the bottom that you tie into your feed. That is illegal. The use of the water is for domestic purposes and it is per household,” he warned.
Mr. Mair also announced that the Williamsfield minor water supply system, recently refurbished in collaboration with the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, would be commissioned into service in May. It will serve residents of Coco Walk, Race Course and Harewood, part of the Troja/Mount Industry area of St. Catherine.