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The Five Rivers Waste Water Treatment Plant overflowing on Saturday.

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Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales, also MP for Lopinot /Bon Air West is promising residents of the Fiver Rivers area that by next year that community will be connected to a new waste water treatment plant which is being built in Trincity.

“In the Bon Air West area and in Five Rivers those plants have been there for a very very long time. Perhaps over 20 years. This plant is the Five Rivers Waste Water Treatment Plant. When I campaigned and even when I became minister I have heard about complaints about that plant. I currently have a team in the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) working on some solutions to clean some of the underground pipes. Also, to do a complete examination of the plant itself and to get back to me. When I walked the community, I was shocked that the plant was located so close to the houses,” Gonzales said in an interview on Saturday .

Residents of the area have been complaining that the plant in Fiver Rivers has been overflowing every time it rains and the problem arose over the weekend again.

A video which circulated over the weekend showed waste water from the plant overflowing.

Gonzales said Five Rivers is a fairly old community and in contemporary times, planners would not build such a plant so close to residential areas.

He added that it is an old plant and it is not connected to any centralised waste water system and eventually it will be decommissioned.

“What we need to do is to connect the waste water system from Five Rivers across to the new centralized waste water plant that we are constructing in the Trincity area. That plant is supposed to be completed next year. It’s way advanced in construction. We intend to tie in communities like Bon Air West, Five Rivers so we can abandon some of those smaller plants. They have outgrown their capacity.”

He said at the moment they are managing a “very difficult situation” so that it does not pose any health risks to the community.

“It has been told to me that WASA is trying its best to address this old waste water infrastructure. What happens is that during periods of heavy rains the water gets mixed up with the sewer line and sewer water is seen coming up from the system. The same thing happened last year and investigations showed that a sewer line was clogged. It was declogged and the situation was solved. It is possible it is the same problem.”

The minister said before the lockdown he had planned a tour of the plant. He has promised to address any further problems regarding the plant.

Randolph Ward, who lives in Five Rivers, told Guardian Media that the plant has been overflowing every time it rains.

He said, “We do not know if this water is treated. COVID-19 is in the air now. We don’t know what could happen. WASA gave a private contractor to manage the plant. Whenever we had any problems we would call him. He always says that he would address the situation. I am quite fed up. Whenever the rain falls it overflows. A fence separates me from that plant. This has been the situation for as long as I can remember. There is a bad smell.”