Water crisis hits restaurants hard By Johann Earle
Stabroek News
March 30, 2007

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Many restaurants in the city experienced major water woes yesterday as GWI struggled to resume full supply amid the world cup matches and increased numbers of visitors.

Most of the places this newspaper visited yesterday had no water, or received so little of the commodity that not much could be done. Efforts yesterday to reach Minister of Housing and Water Harry Narine Nawbatt for a comment on the situation proved futile. While restaurants and citizens suffered major inconvenience, private suppliers of water cashed in.

Manager of Hack's Halaal Restaurant Siddiq Hack described the situation as a disaster. He said that it was affecting people all around his establishment. He said that the business was now dependent on water trucks.

He said that there was no water to wash hands after eating or using the toilet and customers reacted angrily. "We had 11 tanks of water and all finish," he said, informing this newspaper that a truck with water was on its way to the restaurant.

Hack said that with the small amount of time GWI gives for water delivery coupled with the low pressure, the water collected might amount to half a tank, not nearly enough to take care of the hygiene needs of the restaurant. He said that he has been calling the water utility repeatedly to no avail.

The man said that because of the Cricket World Cup (CWC) he is receiving double the number of customers he usually had. When this newspaper visited the establishment yesterday, there was hardly an empty table. According to the manager, they tried as much as possible to stretch the water available. However, eventually it ran out, much to their chagrin and that of their customers.

He said the restaurant pays GWI $30,000 in water rates monthly.

Juliana Badley, of Sea Town Restaurant on Hinck Street said that because of the lack of water, people using the toilets could not wash their hands and this made them very angry and concerned. However, she said that the staff ensured that the toilets in the establishment were flushed, even if it meant dishes had to be left dirty as a trade-off. "We ain't able with this," the concerned woman told this newspaper, expressing the hope that the situation quickly returns to normal. "People quarrel when we tell them that there is no water," she said. "You are paying water rates and yet still you have to go and buy water," she said.

At another establishment on Hinck Street, Kwality Café, a staff member said the situation would have been much worse if they had actually cooked on site. She said they saved a little in terms of water because the food was prepared elsewhere and then taken to the location.

Manager of the Cambo Restaurant on Regent Street, Chow Hung said that the eatery had water, which had been obtained from a location on the East Coast some days ago, but this had run out. "This is a very big problem and the situation is getting worse," Chow said.

Meanwhile, GWI said in a release yesterday that attempts to flush discoloured water from the Lamaha Canal through GWI's Shelter Belt Treatment Plant on Vlissengen Road and Church Street are progressing at an unsatisfactory rate. The Lamaha Canal became discoloured with silt when rains foiled attempts to carry out maintenance works on the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC).

"GWI has engaged the Drainage & Irrigation Board to provide assistance in the form of a high capacity pump which will flush the discoloured water from the Lamaha Canal into nearby drains," GWI said. The company said the final location of the pump along the affected section of the Lamaha Canal was currently being determined.

The company is also exploring the option of modifying the plant's treatment process to remove the large amount of sediment.