A NEW day has dawned for residents of Dennery North who for decades have been forced to live with an insufficient and very poor quality water supply.
Within a few short weeks, the community’s water woes, which started way back in the seventies and eighties when the disease known as bilharzia reigned in every pocket of the commune, will end.
A ground breaking ceremony last Friday to mark the commencement of this new day was held with Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, parliamentary representative Shawn Edward, WASCO’s acting Managing Director, Terryl Monsanto, Mexico’s Ambassador to St. Lucia, Luis Manuel Lopez Moreno all promising a better water supply for the area.
Angelina PheraPolius, a Dennery North resident summed up residents feelings perfectly that day when she called the ceremony a momentous occasion and a breakthrough for the residents.
“We are touched by the generosity of the Mexican Government in providing U$ 5 million towards the implementation of this long overdue project,” she said and entreated Ambassador Moreno to convey residents heartfelt thanks to his people and government.
“For many decades we have experienced chronic water shortages, coupled with poor water quality. Dennery North has benefited from several projects aimed at protecting our water sources and reducing the incidents of water borne diseases like bilharzia, which many of us contracted in the late seventies and early eighties from prolonged use of contaminated river water,” Polius said.
Water harvesting techniques and other methods, practices and systems all geared at providing residents with safe drinking water and reducing contaminants in the rivers and streams in the community were used over the years by dwellers in the community.
“While it is a fact that these projects and others brought some level of relief to the residents, there are still areas today in Dennery North that experience major challenges with regards to water. Some have had no water in their taps for more than six months, and perhaps a year. I was told that Mount Panache had not received water in a very long time. Others have complained about the particles and larvae seen in the water collected from their taps. This is not welcoming,” Polius said.
The water supply re-development plan for the constituency will change all of that, said Water and Sewerage Company (WASCO) acting Managing Director.
Monsanto said the project will help meet the requirement for a reliable, sustainable and improved water supply as it addresses all aspects of the water supply from source to treatment, to distribution to storage.
“The conceptual work began in 2015 and while it has taken a bit longer than anticipated, we are pleased that it had finally taken off,” he said.
But Monsanto warned residents of the critical part they will have to play in maintaining the new water supply they soon will be enjoying, by assisting WASCO in safeguarding the catchment area, the treatment facility and the tanks.
“We have, on too many occasions, seen persons vandalize our equipment and infrastructure with no regard to the implication of this. These facilities belong to you, the residents of Dennery North because you are the beneficiaries and therefore should not allow anyone to destroy it.
“We would require your assistance in locating leaks and breaks in our infrastructure so that we can restore them and this will occur from time to time. This is the kind of collaboration that will bring mutual benefit to WASCO and residents of Dennery North,” he said.
Both Chastanet and Edward were enthusiastic in their praises of the Mexican Government with the former expressing his thanks to Ambassador Moreno for sharing Mexico’s resources with St. Lucia, while Edward expounded in greater detail on Mexico’s involvement in the project.
The Mexican Government contributed US$ 5 million to the project through grant funding, while the St. Lucian Government‘s contribution amounted to US$10 million made possible through loan funds from the Caribbean Development Fund.