Will never run dry!

Newly opened water shop brings relief to Marlie Hill, environs

BY ALICIA SUTHERLAND
Staff reporter
sutherlanda@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, May 21, 2018

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MARLIE HILL, Manchester — After years of water being a scarce commodity which residents of Marlie Hill and its environs had to purchase for domestic usage, there was a collective sigh of relief last Monday as a water shop was officially opened in the community.

The water shop is essentially black plastic water tanks in an enclosed and central area of the southern Manchester community, with an office on the property to monitor access.

The project is a collaborative effort involving the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development, the Manchester Municipal Corporation, and the Rural Water Supply Company.

“It is eight two-thousand gallons [black tanks] so they [residents] will have 16,000 gallons of water on a daily basis,” mayor of Mandeville and chairman of the Manchester Municipal Corporation Donovan Mitchell told the Jamaica Observer Central.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development Desmond McKenzie said that it came at a cost of $8 million.

He told the residents that while the water shop is not the answer for the longstanding water problems in southern Manchester, it is a response to a need and they will not have to pay for the service, which he expects to be consistent.

“It is your tax dollar that has built this facility, so if the truth be told, you have already paid for it because it is your property tax money; there is no charge. The only cost you will have to pay is the cost to ensure that you protect this. This facility is not just a couple of tanks 'puddung'. The water will be treated. This facility will never run dry, will never run dry,” he said.

McKenzie added: “We are not saying that the water shop is the end of your problems. We not saying that this is the answer. We are saying there is a need and we are responding to that need. If we had several of this perhaps the cry would be not as loud as it has been across many sections of the country.”

He said that the Manchester mayor and the chief executive officer at the municipal corporation should ensure that the tanks are never dry.

Mitchell told the press that water haulage contractors will ensure that the water supply is consistent, and a metering system will keep track of water levels.

The water shop in Marlie Hill is the second installed under the project. The first was opened in Pennants, northern Clarendon, late last year.

McKenzie said that the next one for Manchester will be in the Bellefield Division.

“Access to water is fundamental to proper standards of public health. It is also a critical player to national development. This administration is working very hard to bring (drinking) water to almost every community across this country that requires this basic necessity. The initiative of building water shops is different from anything else that has been done before, especially at the level of local government,” he said.

The minister said that the southern parishes in Jamaica, especially Manchester and St Elizabeth, have traditionally suffered from severe drought conditions.

“You have agricultural drought, you have drought of all shape and form, but is one result the drought bring — hardship to household, hardship to farmers,” he told the gathering.

Resident Tony Langley said that the water shop will help because in order to get water for his household, he has to purchase it as often as needed.

Councillor Iceval Brown (Jamaica Labour Party- Grove Town Division), said about 300 residents will benefit and that the water shop is safer, because sometimes the purchase that is made is untreated water.

The challenge with water in Manchester has long been a concern for stakeholders — not just householders and farmers but also those with an interest in commercial investments.

Chairman of the Manchester Parish Development Committee, Anthony Freckleton said that less than 50 per cent of the population in the parish has piped water coming to their premises.

Chief executive officer at the Manchester Municipal Corporation, Winston Palmer told Observer Central that the water facility in Marlie Hill is being operated through a 10-year lease agreement between the Government and private land owners.

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