Drought affected Wakapoa residents get relief

DPI, GUYANA, Thursday, April 05, 2018

Residents of Wakapoa community in the lower Pomeroon River in Region Two, finally have access to potable water after being plagued with arid weather conditions for almost two months.

This follows an intervention by a team of officials from Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) who visited settlement areas in the community today to assess the situation and render assistance.

Director of Operations, Dwayne Shako [right] demonstrating the filtration system of the slow-sand filter system accompanied by Managing Director, Dr. Van West-Charles [centre] and other GWI officials.

During the visit, approximately 15 households in Mora, Yarashirima, and St. Lucian’s Mission settlements, received jerry cans, while six slow-sand filter systems were installed in strategic locations at St. Lucian’s Mission settlement community in Wakapoa.

Managing Director of GWI, Dr. Richard Van West-Charles said that in addition to fulfilling GWI’s mandate of providing communities across Guyana with access to potable drinking water, this initiative is fulfilling a basic human right.

“We want to ensure that when the children are in school and in the kitchen, the dorms where the teachers and in particular the health centre, where the doctors are there is access to safe water.”

During the dry period, the residents were forced to source water from a nearby creek and pond since the community’s three wells became inoperable almost immediately after their construction prior to the 2015 election.

The water company will be installing ultraviolet systems in the area to treat bacteria, making the water extremely safe. Dr. Van West-Charles highlighted that infrastructural interventions are forthcoming.

“Within another week I will prioritise all the drinking water issues. In addition, you have a large reservoir, the engineer said it’s about 9000 gallons so we have to work together to first clean the reservoir. Then we will bring water from the creek, filter it into the reservoir, so the community can have access to potable water,” the Managing Director stated.

Dr. Van West-Charles stressed the need for collective efforts to maintain the filters and disclosed that monthly testing will be conducted to maintain the safety of the water.

Dr. Van West-Charles and Marcy Fredericks, a Councillor from the St. Lucian’s Mission, testing one of the jerry cans.

According to the Managing Director, GWI will be assessing a long-term solution for the drought season. “We understand that there is scarcity in the dry weather so the engineers will come back to suggest the establishment of a catchment area. This will be used to store water for those dry periods.”

Similar initiatives will be executed in other communities along the Pomeroon River Dr. Van West-Charles assured.

Director of Operations, Dwyane Shako indicated that the slow-sand filter system has been in existence for a number of years, but was selected above the more conventional filtration system because it is more effective and provides much cleaner water.

“It filters water very slowly and by doing that it allows not only the aesthetic of the water in terms of the sediments, to be treated but it allows for a biological treatment which means it kills the bacteria in the water,” Shako explained.

According to the Director of Operations, the difference between the slow-sand filter and the conventional filter systems is that the sand in the sand filter system is much finer.

Dr. Van West-Charles engaging residents of St. Lucian’s Mission.

Due to this, the filtration process is much longer, but cleaner. Both the Mora and Yarashirima settlements will soon benefit from their slow sand filter systems. This intervention was welcomed by residents. Others were relieved that students attending school will have access to quality water.

GWI has already begun work in several areas across Guyana to fulfil its commitment to goal six of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which speaks to equitable access to quality water, and efficient use of water in the world by 2030.

Just last month the utility company embarked on an initiative which will soon see the community of Rincon in Moruca, Barima-Waini benefiting from access to potable water for the first time.

The sum of $3.2B was allocated to GWI in the 2018 budget to improve the quality of water supply across the country.


By: Ranetta La Fleur


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