JIS News

The St. Ann Health Department is warning members of the public not to participate in activities such as boating, fishing and vending in the Moneague lake area of the parish, which has been affected by rising waters.
“The Moneague lake is highly contaminated, as several pit latrines have been submerged, pig pens and poultry houses have been washed out and treated effluent from two sewerage plants is being emptied in sections of the lake,” Chief Public Health Inspector at the St. Ann Health Department, Granville McKenzie, has pointed out.
He was speaking at an emergency disaster committee meeting, which was held recently in the St. Ann parish council chambers in St. Ann’s Bay.
Mr. McKenzie said that in special cases where boating has to be done in order to transport residents across the lake, persons must ensure that they take the necessary precautions, so as to avoid bodily contact with the contaminated water, and that the boats must be sanitized and life jackets must be provided.
In recent weeks, curious onlookers, both local and overseas, continue to visit the lake daily, while local residents have sought to cash in by carrying out vending activities, to include boat rides as a form of entertainment.
Mr. McKenzie pointed out that the problems associated with the vending include the lack of potable water, lack of toilet facilities and improper refuse disposal. In addition, he cited the problem of mosquitoes, which the St. Ann Health Department has been working assiduously to eliminate.
“We have conducted thermal fogging in the affected areas, as well as a Rodent/Leptospirosis survey was carried out. We have also been conducting health education meetings and will continue to do so with the assistance of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), and we will also continue to carry out weekly public health monitoring of the lake,” he said.
He informed that the rising waters were now affecting the public cemetery in the area. Based on the report, a decision was taken by the Parish Council to close the Moneague cemetery with immediate effect.
“Back yard burials as well as burials at the Moneague cemetery must cease until further notice from the St. Ann Health Department. Residents of Moneague are being advised to use the Walkers Wood cemetery to conduct burials,” Deputy Mayor for St. Ann, Councillor Sydney Stewart said. Some 88 families have been affected by the rising waters, and action is in progress to assist them.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Security has been carrying out assessments in the area and persons are being asked to make themselves available, so that they can be counted among those who are to benefit from any form of relief assistance that will be provided.
The National Works Agency (NWA) is also in the process of providing an alternative route to Clapham.
Other issues raised at the meeting included the accessing of lands for temporary or even permanent relocation of the flood victims; upgrading of the primary school at Watsonville to accommodate students who are unable to travel to other schools, and subsidizing the cost of transportation for students who have to travel from the affected areas to secondary and high schools outside the area.
Organizations represented at the meeting included the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Windalco, Jamaica Red Cross Society, Salvation Army, Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), National Water Commission (NWC) and the Jamaica Public Service (JPS), among others.
A hydrological assessment of the Moneague lake area by the Water Resources Authority (WRA), has revealed that the lake and rising waters originated as far back as 1678.
The most recent cases occurred in September 2004 after Hurricane Ivan, and heavy rainfall associated with hurricanes Dennis and Emily in July 2005, resulting in the ponding and rising of the water in the Moneague lake area. The lake continues to rise at an average rate of 2.4 inches daily.
“In all my years living in this area, I have never seen anything like this. The water seems to be stretching and spreading and covering more and more of the land every day. My business at the Silver Lake campsite is now threatened, because the cabins are slowly submerging and the water level continues to increase,” Earl Nunez, a resident, told JIS News.
Moneague is located in East Central St. Ann and communities affected by the flooding, include Swamp, Clapham and Foreman’s Hill.

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