Who is to blame?
Agencies pass the buck as water woes continue
Stabroek News
April 1, 2007

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As the water woes continue in the city, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) is pointing a finger at the Guyana Water Inc (GWI), saying it was the latter which made a request in January for maintenance work to be carried out on the Lamaha Canal.

This work was started but the rains then caused turbid water to drain from the East Demerara Water Conservancy(EDWC) into the Lamaha Canal. When the discolouration was discovered by the water company, it asked that the maintenance work cease immediately.

An official of GWI said on Friday that the EDWC commenced the maintenance work without informing them, but this is disputed by the Ministry of Agriculture. Nevertheless, the NDIA and GWI are working together on the problem causing the water turbidity. Up to late last evening the teams were carrying out tests on the Lamaha Canal water.

A release yesterday from the Ministry of Agriculture said: "Further to written request from the management of GWI in early January regarding the availability of water to the Shelter Belt ahead of the anticipated El Nino like conditions, the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) conducted inspections which resulted in the removal of blockages in the Lama Canal."

The release further stated: "It was further recommended that the blockages be removed mechanically and other works were effected to conserve water. The works commenced in January and was halted last Monday after GWI reported the discolouration of the water in the Lama."

The NDIA has since deployed a pump to the affected area to remove the discoloured water; this exercise will soon be completed, the Ministry of Agriculture said. The unit carrying out the work will be operating around the clock, Stabroek News understands.

For the past few days - in the midst of the World Cup - the city began experiencing water shortages. The delivery of water was for the most part restricted to the hours between 4.30 am to 9 am, 11 am to 12 noon and 5 pm to 9 pm, and this at very low pressures. Restaurants and residents complained bitterly about the water shortage, with some eating houses saying that customers were unable to wash their hands before and after eating or were obliged to endure dirty restaurant toilets.

Director of Operations at GWI Yuri Chandisingh gave an indication on Friday that communication between the EDWC and the GWI would need to be looked at to prevent future misunderstandings.

The NDIA assured the public that there was an adequate water supply in the conservancy to meet irrigation requirements and the domestic consumption needs of Georgetown.

Contacted yesterday afternoon, Minister of Housing and Water Harry Narine Nawbatt said that the situation was vastly improved. He said that tests had been carried out on the water in the Lamaha Canal and the results would be made public as soon as these were available.

According to the Minister, the water had been found to be less discoloured than before but it was not yet safe for drinking.