Illegal mining affecting Mahdia’s potable water supply
─ efforts are being sought to resolve the issue
─ and to safeguard against water contamination
DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, July 11, 2018
The authorities responsible for surveillance against illegal mining in hinterland communities are being called upon to exercise stringent enforcement of the law.
This follows a new report of a breach in the main water supply to Mahdia in Region Eight due to unlawful mining in the area.
The water is supplied to the town of 8,000 by a single pipeline. Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI), Executive Director with responsibility for Project Implementation and Partnership, Ramchand Jailall said, “the system operates where water comes through one transmission main through…a creek which is about four to five miles away… this transmission main once it’s broken the entire Mahdia is affected so it’s necessary for us to maintain it and keep it functioning at the appropriate pressure as well…”
At a brief media conference highlighting the extent of damage GWI Managing Director, Dr. Richard Van West-Charles said this recent break took place in the Water Dog area. GWI is now calling for stricter monitoring and surveillance throughout the region by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and police.
This will ensure stricter enforcement of the laws against illegal mining in hinterland communities. Further, GWI suggests collaborative efforts with the regional administration and by extension the community to identify and report illegal mining activities. It was also indicated that the sooner authorities clamp down on the illegal practice, GWI will be able to maximise potable water supply in the town.
Dr. Van West-Charles explained, “we are seeking to collaborate with the regional administration, GGMC and the police. It’s really getting out of control and we now need the community to be involved in helping to stem this type of illegal activity so that the system can be sustainable and restored to serve the population.”
He also noted that breaches of this nature can cost $2Million to repair and most times have not been accounted for in GWI’s annual budget.
“We have done some modelling looking at further improvements in Mahdia but this type of activity begs the question for the investment because if you invest even more and this illegal activity continues to disrupt the system then the investment comes to nought so we really need to arrest it.”
GWI has received more than 100 reports of leaks of this nature and believes it is time to address the issue with much urgency. Illegal mining can have several negative implications on water supply.
GWI is eyeing investment into surveillance resources which will aid in the reduction of damages to water supply infrastructure.
By: Delicia Haynes.
Images: Leroy Lyttle and Guyana Water Incorporated.