The discovery that two of the Water and Sewerage Authority’s (WASA) critical water storage tanks have not been functioning for 15 years has triggered Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales to call for an audit into all of WASA’s water storage facilities across the country.
Gonzales found out about the inoperative tanks which could supply the entire Port-of-Spain district and parts of east Trinidad with a regular supply of water during a recent meeting with WASA’s board chaired by Dr Lennox Sealy.
One tank which has a ten million gallon capacity is located at Picton Road Laventille. The other, which can store five million gallon of water, is in Mt Hope.
He made the revelation to Guardian Media after examining three tanks which have a combined storage capacity of 10.6 million gallons in St Ann’s had not been working for years.
Joined by a technical crew from WASA, Gonzales found out that the three tanks could be repaired in short order.
WASA identified a choke pipeline that has led to one of the tanks not being filled.
Once the problems are sorted out, Gonzales said residents of Lady Chancellor, Cascade and St Ann’s will receive a regular supply of water.
“From my understanding those two tanks in Picton and Mt Hope have not been in service for 15 years. The problem is hydraulic issues. I am told that the pressure coming from the Caroni Water Treatment Plant does not allow for the tanks to be filled naturally. If this is the case, we have to explore alternative ways to ensure the tanks are filled and put to use.”
Gonzales agreed that the tanks have been lying while communities suffer for water.
The tank in Picton, once repaired, Gonzales said can supply the whole of Port- of-Spain, while several communities in Mt Hope and surrounding areas can receive a regular pipe borne supply once the problem is identified and addressed.
“I was taken aback and indeed alarmed, in my view, that these two crucial tanks have not been in service for 15 years. Whatever the problem might have been it should not have taken 15 years to rectify.”
“I have commissioned a comprehensive audit to be done on all of WASA’s water storage tanks. I have also requested that they come up with a work programme to have all their tanks that are not working reactivated to improve the water supply across the country.”
The audit will provide Gonzales with an inventory of WASA’s tanks, the cost to repair and how the water company intends to rectify the issues.
Gonzales said WASA, over the years, installed towering concrete and metal tanks across the country to assist with water distribution but are not serving its purpose.
“When the water pressure drops at water treatment plants these tanks are supposed to act as buffers to continue to provide water to communities, but this has not been happening.”
“These tanks are quick fixes…it does not require billions of dollars. It is going to take some capital investment where we have to lay down pipelines. But once we get all those things done I am confident citizens will see an improvement in their water supply. “Gonzales said while the tanks remain an eyesore citizens have been crying out for water.
“We know what the problems are and we are going to fix them one by one. If there is a problem with low water pressure, WASA cannot just throw their hands in the air and say they can’t be filled. The state is paying WASA workers to fix the problem.”
Insisting that T&T is not water scarce, Gonzales said WASA has to get its water system in order.
“They have to recognise that lack of water is one of the country’s pressing concerns. People need water. The culture inside of WASA needs to be rooted out and I am determined to do it.”
Gonzales said he intends to write to all MPs asking them to indicate what areas in their constituency have been experiencing water woes.
“Once I get that information I will continue to have my regular meetings with WASA’s board and management to identify those communities as priorities to ensure water reaches their taps.”