Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 26th 2015 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
Thursday, February 26, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Although thousands of people in
central Trinidad will not have a
reliable pipebourne water supply
today, the Water and Sewerage
Authority (WASA) will not be able
to supply everyone affected by the
contamination problem at the
Caroni Water Treatment Plant with
This was confirmed yesterday by
Daniel Plenty, WASA s senior man-
ager of corporate communications.
Many residents in central Trinidad
awoke yesterday to find their water
supply contaminated with a petro-
People were unable to brush their
teeth, cook or drink the water com-
ing out of their pipes. Many affected
residents said the water tasted putrid
and smelt like diesel or kerosene.
Many residents were subsequently
forced to empty their water tanks.
This proved particularly problematic,
as the residents who receive water
from the plant were recently put on
a temporary water supply schedule
to facilitate the underperforming
"We are ramping up the water
truck service. However, it will be
impossible for us to supply truck-
bourne water to everyone. There are
certain areas that we must give pri-
ority to," Plenty said.
Schools, senior citizens homes,
health centres and other medical
facilties would receive first priority
for truckbourne service, he said.
Minister of Environment and
Water Resources Ganga Singh con-
firmed last evening that WASA
would be unable to provide a reliable
supply to everyone but said WASA
officials were working on rectifying
the problem as soon as possible.
"The plant was working under
capacity but it was scheduled to be
replaced this week so that it could
work up to capacity.
"Around 7.15 pm on Tuesday the
petroleum substance was noticed in
the water supply and the plant was
immediately shut down. At about
12:45 am yesterday the river was
cleared of the oily substance, as well
as clean-up and disinfection works
on the plant," he added.
Singh said later yesterday that
after the first discovery of the petro-
leum-based substance contamina-
tion, another "sheen" in the water
supply and the plant was once again
shut down immediately.
Act of terrorism
Singh said while he could not
jump to conclusions about sabotage,
if the contamination was an act of
foul play it could be likened to ter-
"It is an act of terrorism against
the population because it is impact-
ing against the vital supply of the
water during the dry season," he
He said an investigation would be
carried out by WASA s estate police,
who are working with the Environ-
mental Management Authority
"They are going to search and
determine the cause of the contam-
ination," Singh said.
He added that the ministry had
engaged experts to ensure that type
of pollution did not enter the water
"We are trying to determine the
source of the pollutant and deter-
mine if it was a negligence, an acci-
dent or deliberate," Singh said.
Business owner Bobby Maharaj,
from Piarco Village, said he wanted
whoever was responsible for con-
taminating the area to be held
He said many times people fre-
quently dumped their waste in the
river and even contractors dumped
their refuse into the river water.
"They need to find out who is the
culprit and charge them for some-
thing. They need to do something
with the people dumping in the river.
They need to understand that there
are consequences for dumping refuse
in the water," Maharaj said.
Responding to Maharaj s plea, the
minister said not only did people
need to be held accountable but res-
idents needed to report polluters to
the police, and there needed to be
a change in culture regarding pol-
luting the water courses.
He added: "I am calling upon peo-
ple to be vigilant. There is a pollutant
culture. People dump their fridges
and all of that into drains. There is
a need for a cultural change.
"I want this to be a learning
opportunity for people to understand
what happens when you pollute the
water supply. Throwing something
in the drains will lead to the river
which will lead to the treatment
plants and it will take an extra effort
to make potable water for the pop-
When asked if a criminal inves-
tigation had been launched into the
contamination of the water supply,
Senior Superintendent Johnny Abra-
ham informed T&T Guardian that
no official report was filed with the
Central Police Division.
WASA probes source of contamination...
Supply may be unreliable
Sixty schools in central
Trinidad were dismissed early
yesterday due to the contamina-
tion of the water at the Caroni
Water Treatment Plant.
The Education Ministry also
suspended school feeding meals
in the Caroni area.
Some 41 primary and 12 sec-
ondary schools in Caroni, three
primary and two secondary schools
in St George East and two primary
in Port-of-Spain and Environs
Educational District were affected
by the incident, the ministry said
in a release.
"As a precautionary measure,
the Ministry of Education, through
the National Schools Dietary Serv-
ices Ltd, has advised caterers
affected by the Caroni Water
Treatment Plant to suspend their
services until WASA advises that
the situation is resolved.
"This means that a number of
ECCE centres and primary and
secondary schools on the attached
list will not be supplied with
lunch/breakfast meals (school
feeding) tomorrow (today)," the
Parents of students attending
schools in the affected areas today
have been asked to ensure students
are provided with an adequate sup-
ply of safe drinking water.
Patrice Williams, parent of an
eight-year-old child who attends
the Chaguanas RC School, was
anxious yesterday, as she said her
son had been drinking the water
"We both drank the water and
now I am frightened because I
don t know how it would affect
us," she said.
Williams, who was heading
home after going to collect her
son, said she was glad to be taking
him home so she could monitor
While some schools dismissed
early, others continued with their
classes while ensuring the safety
of the students.
Linda Maharaj, principal of St
Helena Community Early Child
Care Education Centre, said the
school remained open but many
parents chose to pick up their chil-
When the T&T Guardian visited
the school around midday, approx-
imately 16 parents had taken their
children home. The other students
who remained were carefully
watched by the teachers.
Maharaj said all the children who
stayed were given bottled water
and were monitored by the teach-
ers when they went to the bath-
room. She said that was to ensure
the children did not drink the water
when they were washing their
60 schools dismissed
Teachers at the St Helena Community Early Childhood Education Centre
serve bottled water to pupils yesterday following a report that Water and
Sewerage Authority (WASA) Caroni Water Treatment Plant had been
contaminated with fuel. PHOTO: RISHI RAGOONATH
T&T Guardian yesterday went to affected areas in Central Trinidad, where
many residents complained of problems with their water supply.
Sookesh Harricharan, from Albert Trace, Kelly Village, said when he arrived
home from work at about 11 am, he picked up the garden hose and drank
from it like he usually does. He immediately spat out the water when he
realised that it was not only tasting bad but smelling foul.
Harricharan said only he drinks from the hose. Now, the family has to
empty all their water supply.
"We normally boil the water and drink it but I drink from the pipe. I am
feeling fine now but I don't want my children drinking the water," he said
Harricharan said he did not know what he was going to do about a water
supply, adding he could not even go to a friend or relative for water because
everyone in the area had the same problem.
"We get our water every other day. Now we have to empty the tank. You
can't use the water to do anything," he said.
Piparo Village resident Kaloutie Sumarsingh-Francis was upset about the
situation, saying she had been trying all day to contact WASA for relief.
"I think it is a serious issue. I am trying to call WASA but no one is
answering. I did not smell anything but I get my water from the tank. Now I
have to empty out my tank because we have a baby here and we cannot risk
her getting sick," she said.
Many residents also expressed concern about having to empty their tanks
but they said they were not concerned about their drinking water because
they often received dirty water and only drank bottled water.
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