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Immigrant News Queens

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Running Out of Water in Trinidad

Posted by admin On February - 21 - 2010  Print  Email  

Pipe Water for Sale. Anyone?

by Susan Gosine

It has taken a dry spell to spook the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) in Trinidad into repairing broken pipelines, some of which spilled millions of gallons of water into the ground for years in spite of complaints from residents.

Water is precious to all life (photo: worldproutassembly.org).

It is a rare sight not to see a broken pipeline along the roadway with running water digging trenches and potholes in the ground. WASA is plugging up those leaks. How did they suddenly come by the manpower to repair all those broken pipelines when for years they’ve complained about the lack of same?  Perhaps one good thing has, indeed, come out of the dry spell after all. Will it become a thing of the past after the drought? We’ll soon find out.

On the other hand the two things running out fast following announcement of a prolonged drought caused by the absence of the year end rainfall are: water and water tanks. Just the mention of a water shortage and people hastened to the hardware stores to buy water tanks. To counteract the panic buying unscrupulous dealers jacked up the prices by several hundreds ($300 to $700 in some instances) and smiled smugly as their supplies ran out.

On a more sobering note people have been caught selling pipe borne and truck borne water. Instead of working with WASA to ensure that water is conserved and everyone gets an equal supply so there will be sufficient to sustain the population throughout the dry spell, they are exploiting it. And the buyers are also guilty of indulging them.  They should all be held accountable, unless, there’s a way to drink money if water runs out.

WASA’s truck borne water is free, has always been. Trucks bear its logo and workers carry identification cards.  Demand to see them and report those who don’t have any. The Deputy Commissioner of Police Gilbert Reyes has joined with WASA to crackdown on the illegal selling of water.

Filling water at a public pipe tap.

“If, according to WASA, we have a water shortage problem in the country, people should not break the law. Anything about law enforcement in the country, the Police Service is willing and able to assist,” he said.

While the water level is sinking fast in the reservoir and the dams WASA has appointed 130 water police. Their duties: to keep watch on communities to ensure citizens are not wasting water.  So far they have arrested several homeowners who were caught selling their pipe borne water supply. And they have been charged with a hefty fine of $75. No wonder they are brazenly selling water. Such a low fine for breaking the law in a time of conservation, surely, it has little impact. An increase, maybe will bear more results.

Only 130 water police to monitor the country’s water use, now, that’s a straight case for manpower shortage. And they have to be on the job every day stretching themselves from one end of the country to the other and to accompany WASA workers to illegal water selling hot spots. The water police have the authority to enter premises and inspect plumbing. But they have been met with locked gates and ferocious dogs.

It seems as if people do not yet understand the severity of the water shortage hitting the country. They are still stuck behind in time, grappling for money from anything worth selling, and in this crisis time, water.

There is a drought on people, 52,000 in Trinidad’s agricultural belt are at risk, plants and animals are dying from thirst and dehydration, the ground is cracking open, water wells and ponds are drying up.  People are being arrested for wasting water and using sprinklers. Rain is not expected for another six weeks. The water level to supply the country is frighteningly low. All signs of a water crisis. What more evidence is required?


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Hi. My name is Susan Gosine-Herrera. I live in Queens, New York. This news blog is my way of highlighting all the interesting things, people and events I come across in this part of New York. If you have an interesting immigrant story or know of one or of an interesting immigrant, I will be happy to feature that story in these pages. Just send an email and I will be in touch. Meanwhile, live like a tourist, enjoy all you can, before you move on.

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