News, Top Story

WASCO Plans Temporary Shutdown

“It has to get worse before it can get better,” says CEO

By Marvlin Anthony
WASCO’s Chief Executive Officer Zilta George-Leslie
WASCO’s Chief Executive Officer Zilta George-Leslie

THE Water and Sewerage Company Inc. (WASCO) has planned a temporary shutdown of the northern water supply to conduct critical repairs. But that decision is not sitting well with many of the company’s customers who for weeks now have been experiencing water shortages.

Many individuals have taken to social media to air their frustrations but WASCO’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Zilta George-Leslie said that “it has to get worse before it can get better, that’s the sad reality.”

In a press release shared to Facebook Monday, WASCO informed customers that the planned shutdown is scheduled for Friday 1 March 2024, with an anticipated 48-hour completion time frame.

The maintenance work will seek to improve water service reliability to customers, WASCO said.

During this period, “consumers from Millet to Cap Estate will experience an interruption in their water supply. The repair work involves addressing damages on the raw water line between the John Compton Dam and the Theobalds Treatment Plant in Ciceron. While this may cause temporary inconvenience, these repairs are necessary to enhance the overall efficiency of the water supply system,” the company stated in its press release.

George-Leslie said that “the water supply is very compromised at this time because the main transmission pipeline is compromised. That pipeline – and I think we need to give you a little bit of history, goes way back. It was designed sometime in 1978 which is some 46 years ago and it was installed in the late 1980’s. That pipeline was compromised from inception because it was made of mild steel.”

According to her, the mild steel deteriorated over a period of time because of the type of material that was used “and the type of soil type that we had back then. Of course, this results currently in very high levels of water loss. These high levels of water loss result in us having very frequent shutdowns of the water. These pipelines have to be repaired so that we can provide customers with that supply of water.”

To prepare for the shutdown, WASCO is urging customers to increase their potable water storage capacity.

“We appreciate the understanding of our consumers during this short-term disruption and assure you that we are committed to completing the repairs promptly. If you experience any supply interruptions or localized faults, please contact WASCO’s control room at the following numbers: 457-3958, 457-3960, or 451-9812. Faults can also be (reported) via WhatsApp number: 482-0052. WASCO thanks you for your continued cooperation and patience as we work to improve and maintain the reliability of water supply system,” the company wrote in its post.

But many of their customers are far from understanding.

“We are unable to prepare when the water supply has already been shut down for many days and we have no communication on when said water supply will be activated again for us to prepare as you advise,” Facebook user Samantha William said underneath the company’s post.

Another user, ‘Estrella’ asked “how do we increase our storage when we don’t have water to do so? How do we prepare for a shutdown when we have been shut down for weeks?”

The CEO is not oblivious to customers’ sentiments, however.  In fact, she said, “what we need to realise is that when this section of the network is down it has to be brought offline for a number of reasons for repairs and maintenance. We have quite a few customers who are dissatisfied which is what we’re faced with currently.”

Those dissatisfied customers, she said, do not represent “the entire north… you would realise that all of those persons are at high elevations so even when we have maintenance done on the pipeline the water will be restored to most of the north but we have this very small section where the water has not been restored.”

WASCO is working on remedying the situation. In the meantime, “we use trucks to supply persons at the high elevation,” Water Services Manager Jim King said.

“It’s not the best. Whenever you get into rationing of water the situation sometimes doesn’t pan out to be what you expect but that’s what we have to do until that date… we ask the public for their cooperation,” he added.

King said that individuals can contact the company “especially persons who have issues, because sometimes the trucks would go by and not give water to everyone. We have persons on the ground but we need the help of the public also to identify these hotspots where we have these issues. That’s the most we can say until the shutdown. We are actually very clear on the fact that after we have repaired these leaks things will improve.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend