JIS News

Preliminary assessments from the National Water Commission (NWC), indicate that approximately 65% of the utility company’s distribution network, was affected during the passage of Tropical Storm Gustav.
Speaking at a media briefing at Jamaica House on Friday (August 29), Prime Minister Bruce Golding, said preliminary reports received, indicate that failure in the public electricity supply, resulting from the storm’s onslaught, was, for the most part, responsible for the disruption in the NWC’s service.
The Prime Minister, also highlighted other reasons for the disruption, which he said the NWC would have been unable to address until the storm’s passage.
“In some instances (it was) because of turbidity, where they had to shut down the plants, in some instances, intakes are blocked with debris and these will have to be cleaned. In some instances, there may be relatively minor technical problems, but access to the points where the problems exist is difficult because of the (bad) road conditions,” he outlined.
Mr. Golding pointed out that NWC’s emergency crews, have been working to correct the problems, but said the undertaking was challenging, and urged the public to be understanding and to exercise patience.
“They are working. Emergency crews are out, and they are working feverishly to restore supplies as quickly as possible. We expect that, gradually, over the next 48 hours, most of the supplies will be restored,” the Prime Minister assured.
Mr. Golding singled out the parish of St. Thomas, noting that there was significant disruption there, which would pose challenges for the agency to restore water. He said, however, that the NWC had given the assurance, that a concerted effort would be made to undertake incremental restoration of water to the parish.
The NWC’s Corporate Communications Manager, Charles Buchanan, told JIS News that, in light of the storm, disruptions to the supply network were expected, as the infrastructure is susceptible to damage such as landslides, especially during the hurricane season. He said that work crews would be out, as early as possible, assessing the damage and effecting restoration efforts.
“Those cases, where facilities are not damaged but only require minor operations to get them back into normal operations, we will be working at doing that, and we will be doing an assessment in terms of those levels of damage that may require longer term work. In some instances, where turbidity or power is the major issue, which may be out of our control, we will await some change in those conditions. But, in all cases, where it’s in the control of the Commission, our objective is to get normal piped supply to our customers as soon as possible,” he underscored.
Regarding damage to the pipeline system in St. Thomas, Mr. Buchanan pointed out that subsequent to the passage of Hurricane Dennis, when the Yallahs pipeline network suffered extensive damage, amounting to millions of dollars, work was undertaken to protect it, by relocating replaced lines to safer locations.
Mr. Buchanan said that, following a detailed assessment of the network and other critical areas of the Commission’s infrastructure islandwide, corrective work will commence.