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Ashmead Ali and his wife Nadeira Khan perform Maghrib (Sunset) prayer with children Zahra and Eshal Ali and Ruhel Khan at their Palmiste home on Saturday.

Severe water shortages put a damper on Eid celebrations in several parts of the country over the weekend.

In South Trinidad, thousands of people from Penal, Debe, Barrackpore, Esperance and Duncan Village have had no pipeborne water for several weeks.

In North and East Trinidad, areas including Manzanilla, Malabar Phases 1, 3 & 4, Tumpuna Road, San Rafael, Brazil, La Horquetta, Carapo/O’Meara Road, Maloney, Five Rivers, Oropune Gardens and Golden Grove Road also experienced water shortages.

Ashard Khan, from Lower Barrackpore, said many residents had to purchase water at $400 for an 800-gallon tank to get water to cook and wash.

“The last time we got water was on May 8. We normally prepare a lot of sweets for our friends and neighbours but this year we had to do everything on a small scale because of COVID and also because of the water shortages,” he said.

Penal/Debe Regional Corporation chairman Dr Allen Sammy said over 10,000 people in his area had been without water for weeks. Saying WASA’s water delivery system had crashed, Sammy said in Congo Village and Ramai Trace, residents have not had water for 20 days.

“Many of these homes have several people who are infirm, on dialysis and babies. Lalbeharry Trace, Katwaroo Trace, Transfer Village and Mohess Road,” he said.

The regions of Esperance, Debe East and Union Hall experienced similar water woes. Councillor Mohanie Ramnarine said Papoiurie Road and environs have not had water for 16 days and over 3,000 residents have been suffering.

Sammy also claimed more than 4,000 people from Penal under the councillor Shanty Boodram had not had any water for 21 days.

Kanhai Trace resident Ramona Sookermany said she had been forced to visit relatives to wash because of the crisis.

“The water comes in the main like a trickle and has not reached down to where I live,” she said.MP for Oropouche Dr Roodal Moonilal said he had received numerous complaints of water shortages.

“I particularly empathise with my brothers and sisters of the Islamic Faith who are challenged on this blessed day to prepare meals, sweets and snacks for family, neighbours and friends after the period of fasting. It is burdensome that at a time when persons cannot go to their place of worship as they would desire, they are without so basic a necessity as water at their residences,” he said yesterday. He said while water levels are critically low in some areas, residents were requesting immediate relief in the short term.

“In Ramai Trace, Mohess Road, Lower Barrackpore, Cuchawan Trace and Debe, homes have been without water for 10 to 16 consecutive days. It becomes almost a sham for the government in the context of COVID 19 to ask citizens to wash their hands regularly but to fail to provide water,” Moonilal said.

WASA’s CEO responds

Contacted for comment yesterday, acting WASA CEO Alan Poon King said the harsh dry weather conditions had impacted on their water reserves.

“In April we experienced the second-lowest level of rainfall on record. For the month of May they had a projection and we were working with that but the rainfall was again way below that projection,” he said.

He noted that the areas in North and East Trinidad listed by Guardian Media were facilitated by the North Oropouche plant which was now operating with a 45 per cent production reduction.

“Barrackpore is supplied by the Navet plant which is at 85 or 90 per cent of production capacity. We have made some adjustments and those areas should be getting water soon,” Poon King said.He noted that areas in North, Central and parts of South Trinidad facilitated by the Caroni plant are also impacted as that plant was operating at 55 per cent production.

“Overall, we are at 20 per cent overall below the optimum level of production. We normally produce 243 million gallons per day when we have water available but now we are currently producing 200 million gallons per day and that is a significant deficit,” he added.

Poon King said those residents who get water should use it wisely and conserve. He noted that truck borne water distribution has been ramped up and WASA will work towards providing water to all customers.